18 December 1998

Kept lambs threat to following crop

TOO many lambs remaining on-farm are putting next years lamb crop at risk, while wide availability of poor quality concentrate is also affecting ewe condition.

Sheep consultant Lesley Stubbings warns that many ewes on farm are starting to lose condition as grass cover falls.

"On many farms, unsold lambs are still grazing, leaving bare fields and so reducing the amount of grass available for ewes. Poor quality hay and silage are also adding to concerns."

That is being compounded by the availability of poor quality concentrate, which is supplying inadequate energy. "There is plenty of concentrate about at 10-10.5 ME, but that is insufficient energy for pregnant ewes. A 12.5 ME cake is far better, and is likely to be more cost-effective, as it is cheaper a tonne on an energy basis."

Where ewes are in mid-pregnancy and there is little grass, sugar beet nuts will provide a good source of digestible fibre, she says. "This can be fed on the floor where it is reasonably dry, or on a roadway or hard-standing.

"The usual pre-lambing ration can then be introduced gradually eight weeks before lambing," adds Ms Stubbings. &#42