7 November 1997

Cake – softly, softly

SHEEP producers should introduce concentrate gradually to lambs to prevent digestive upsets.

Vet consultant Tony Andrews of UKVet warns that concentrate levels are being raised too quickly in an attempt to boost lamb growth rates. This is leading to an increase in digestive upsets and urinary calculi (stones).

"Concentrate should be increased gradually from 0.2kg/day by about 0.1kg/ head/day twice a week to avoid acidosis. Adequate trough space for all lambs to feed together will also help reduce upsets."

To reduce the risk of stones – which occur when calcium deposits build up in the urinary system – Dr Andrews suggests feeding salt at inclusion rates between 1-2% of the diet.

"Salt encourages the lamb to drink water and reduces the build up of stones. But this treatment depends on the adequate provision of clean water," says Dr Andrews.