24 October 1997

Lamb finishers may need cake

LAMB producers may need to consider feeding concentrates in an attempt to finish lambs.

According to Lincs-based ADAS sheep specialist Alison Lockwood the growthy summer – when grass got ahead of many flocks – and recent wetter weather have combined to reduce quality. "Most producers have got grass. But it may not be sufficient quality to finish lambs."

Whole barley or concentrates such as sugar beet pulp or nuts should be considered where lambs are reluctant to finish.

"About 0.5lb barley a head a day will help lambs finish more rapidly. But introduce barley slowly, feeding only 0.25lb a head a day until all are taking feed before increasing levels. Where lambs over-indulge, acidosis can occur."

Sugar beet pulp or nuts are more fibrous, and provide less risk of digestive upset, says Mrs Lockwood.

"Again, they should be fed at about 0.5lb a head a day as their energy is about the same."

Where lambs are moving on to roots, she urges producers to take blood samples from some lambs to check copper levels. "Some farms – particularly those in East Anglia – are deficient in copper. Deficiency is compounded when lambs go on to roots as they ingest soil, which locks copper up."

Lambs deficient in copper will not finish even though feed levels are sufficient, she warns.