19 January 1996

…and finishing lamb profit is up

PROFITS were boosted by £8 a lamb by offering feed blocks to outdoor finishing lambs over a six-week period, according to Plumpton College trials.

The increase was due to securing a better price by marketing lambs earlier, reduced feed costs and improved carcass quality.

Two hundred Suffolk and Texel lambs were split equally. Both groups were fed grass for a day followed by a day of stubble turnips. They were then weighed to record any change.

After that one group was fed stubble turnips only, while the other group also had access to one feed block per 25 lambs. Both groups were weighed weekly thereafter.

After six weeks 33 lambs from the block-fed group were ready for marketing and sold for an average £42 a lamb. None of the stubble-turnip fed lambs had reached the right condition score at this point.

"Since our lambs normally take at least 12 weeks to reach the grade, the introduction of blocks halved the time taken to meet market specification," says college sheep unit manager Julian Fuller.

During poor weather one week in November the stubble-turnip only fed lambs lost up to 1.5kg body weight. The other group maintained a "reasonable" growth rate over the same period.