10 November 1995

Finishing is influenced by water and light

WATER and light can have a big influence on finishing or storing lambs indoors, a mid Wales conference was told.

A big audience of sheep producers at Caersws, Powys, heard Charles Young, BOCM Pauls Scotland based technical manager, say that whatever the reason for housing lambs, to have any chance of hitting physical and financial performance targets priority must be given to good husbandry.

He suggested fast or delayed finishing indoors were useful ways of easing grazing pressure on farms with suitable accommodation. He also looked at producing early prime lambs in sheds.

Mr Young claimed that experience had shown that one of the main causes of unsatisfactory results was poor access to clean water. Farmers installed and connected bowls and troughs, but frequently failed to check whether the lambs could reach them easily. The result was that shy lambs did not thrive.

"Putting a block in front of the drinking bowl can solve the

problem easily," Mr Young said.

Trial work done by his company had also shown that it paid to spend £17 on a time switch to manipulate light. When one was used the daily gain of male lambs housed at about 25kg liveweight increased from 121g/day to 136g/day, and female lambs put on an extra 20g/day.

Instead of getting the natural light pattern the lambs were exposed to seven hours of light, 10 of darkness, one hour of light around 1.30am, followed by six hours of darkness.

"The one hour of light has an hormonal effect and improves the digestion of feed already eaten," said Mr Young.