21 January 2000

Do not rush finishing

SWITCHING store lambs on to a fast track finishing regime must be done gradually to ensure efficient response to extra feed, says Signet.

According to its Midlands-based consultant Maurice Jones, finishers aiming to sell lambs on a strong market later in the spring may now decide to finish them sooner than intended.

"If thats the case its important not to rush it," he says. Most lambs will have been fed 0.23kg of concentrates/day throughout winter and will have been gradually improving, before a final push to finish them.

"Introduce extra feed slowly, increasing daily rations from 0.23kg to 0.46kg over five to seven days, to allow lambs to adjust."

This is particularly important when lambs are being switched from rape or sugar beet tops, now that these are beginning to run out, he says. Whenever diets are changed, its important to check all lambs are feeding. Any deaths, when lambs are worth £40 each, are a serious drain on margins.

Mr Jones says feeding lambs at higher levels for three-weeks should achieve a weight gain of 3kg for store lambs growing slowly all winter.

Finishers should be looking at a cost of 10p/kg of liveweight gain, leaving a £10-11 margin on lambs bought at realistic prices in early autumn. "Thats better than the break-even situation finishers have been coping with in recent years," he says. &#42

Introduce concentrates gradually to fast-track finishing lambs to ensure an efficient response to feed.