22 March 1996

Ewes and lambs thrive with self-help feeding

PROVIDED good quality grass silage is available self-help feed blocks can replace trough-fed compounds without affecting the overall performance of ewes and lambs.

The findings from a trial at ADAS Rosemaund, Herefordshire, (Chapple, Wheeler and Marsh-Rumenco) were presented at the BSAS meeting.

Eighty North Country Mule ewes were mated with Suffolk tups, housed in four groups and offered high quality 30% dry matter, 17.3% protein, 11.2 ME and 70 D-value silage up to lambing. The supplement was a home-mixed compound or Rumevite Sheep Super Energy feed blocks containing a Deccox coccidiostat.

After lambing ewes and lambs were turned on to grass paddocks. Ewes on feed blocks lost significantly more weight from February up to lambing but at the end of the trial ewe weights were similar.

Lambs born to ewes fed feed blocks were lighter at birth and at six weeks but there was no difference at the 10-week or sale stages.

High lamb growth rates from birth to slaughter were obtained on both treatments with no differences in carcass weight, dressing proportion or classification.

Both treatments were effective in preventing coccidiosis infection in lambs and low egg counts were recorded.

Feed costs were similar at £27.30 a ewe for both feed treatments.

Dennis Chapple:Self-help feed blocks can replace trough-fed concentrates without affecting overall performance.