6 December 1996

Feed easy with in-lamb ewes

PRODUCERS with spring-lambing flocks should ensure ewes dont become over-fat, but that thinner ewes are fed adequately.

So warns ADAS sheep specialist Lesley Stubbings. "Grass may be in short supply in some areas. Producers should aim to keep ewes in a stable body condition, but theres a temptation to overdo it; you dont want ewes to gain condition in mid-pregnancy."

Miss Stubbings says ewes can lose 2-4% of their bodyweight without detriment – provided they are in good condition to start.

"If ewes are in good condition – body condition score three or more – aim to keep them ticking over. Feeding silage or hay while they are at grass will help."

Lean ewes, those scoring below three, should be supplementary fed, she says. "Potatoes, sugar beet or fodder beet are all easy to feed. Theyre less hassle and expense than trough feeding. In round terms, a kilo of potatoes or beet can replace 0.25kg barley."

However, ewes must have access to long fibre such as hay, silage or straw, and a standard feedblock should be used to balance the diet.

"If the thin ewes are older, and cant eat potatoes or beet, its best to shed them off and feed separately on concentrate," says Miss Stubbings.