21 March 1997

Give em cake after lambing

SHEEP producers should continue to feed ewes after lambing even where grass availability appears good.

Lesley Stubbings, ADAS sheep specialist, warns that cutting feed as soon as ewes and lambs are turned out can lead to reduced milk yield and body condition if grass becomes short, as well as increasing staggers risk.

"Producers should measure grass height before ewes and lambs are turned out, it is not good enough to go by eye. If grass is under 4cm in height, ewes should be fed concentrate. And even where it is over 4cm, continuing to feed concentrate which contains magnesium will give cover against staggers."

Where grazing is short, Ms Stubbings suggests halfbred ewes with twin lambs should ideally receive 1kg a head a day. Ewes and lambs grazing grass 3-4cm (1-1.6in) in height should be offered 0.5kg a head a day.

"Even where grass is plentiful, I would recommend producers continue to offer concentrate. The weather is forecast to change at the end of this week, which could reduce grass availability and increase staggers risk. It is difficult to reintroduce concentrate once feeding has stopped."

Ms Stubbings says the best option is continue offering ewes concentrate until they stop coming to the trough. "Ewes will stop coming for feed when they no longer need it."