2 April 1999

Cost-effective diet tips

JANUARY twin lambing ewes can be cost-effectively fed on molassed sugar beet and distillers by-products but care must be taken over inclusion rates.

ADASs Dennis Chapple told delegates that a trial at ADAS Rosemaund, Hereford, showed feed savings of £3.55 a ewe compared with feeding an 18% protein concentrate.

Ewes were fed a 60:40 barley distillers and molassed sugar beet feed seven weeks before lambing, beginning at 0.3kg a head and increasing up to 0.9kg at lambing with ad-lib silage. A flat rate of 1kg a head was fed until lambs were eight weeks old.

Lamb birth weights and subsequent growth rates were measured. These compared well with lambs whose mothers had been fed concentrates. Ewe condition was maintained throughout.

But a 70:30 maize distillers and molassed sugar beet pulp diet fed to ewes receiving straw as the main forage was not successful compared with offering a 20% protein concentrate, said Mr Chapple.

"This is because there is a higher proportion of oil in maize distillers, 12.3% compared to 8.7% for barley."

According to Trident feeds nutritionist Matt Witt this ration is probably too high in nutrients.

"Ewes were in good condition throughout the trial. But nutrients were partitioned towards the ewe and not the lamb, keeping her in good condition but not gearing her up for lambing."