29 March 2002

Ensure non-organic feeds offer value

ORGANIC sheep producers relying on non-organic feeds to supplement ewes with lambs must consider the cost of all options, urges one organic consultant.

Hill farms like ADAS Pwllpeiran can only produce grass and all supplements have to be purchased, says its organic consultant David Frost. "However, the high cost of organic concentrates forces many producers to rely on using approved non-organic feeds.

"Non-organic feed use is restricted to 10% of the annual dry matter intake. This means any bought in non-organic feed must offer best value for lamb growth."

Organic producers also have to observe a 60% lower limit on forage in the ration. This removes the option of housing ewes and feeding concentrates, says Mr Frost.

"These producers prompted a study to investigate feed blocks as an alternative non-organic feed."

Twin-bearing Hardy Speckled Face hill ewes were supplemented with either 0.6kg/day of compound or half this amount of concentrate with Rumevite feed blocks.

Although feeding concentrates led to a higher lamb weight gain of 0.5kg/day compared with 0.3kg/day for the blocks, it proved to be less economic than the block-based system. The difference was worth 6p/kg of lamb weight gain.

Mr Frost believes feed blocks are also easier to transport than concentrate and bullied ewes have more opportunity to eat supplementary feed. &#42