1 September 2000

Lamb shortfall choices

A TEMPORARY shortfall in finished lambs means some producers may consider pushing lambs on in light of better prices.

Lamb buyers though, advise some caution. Both John Bailey of Dawn Meats, Bedford, and Juliet Davies of HM Bennett in Andover, agree that the shortfall will be short-lived and is mainly caused by a late harvest.

"Killing out weights will increase as a bit of sun on their backs soon changes lambs," says Mr Bailey, adding that additional feeding is not justifiable.

"We will soon be into autumn and higher lamb supplies, so prices are then likely to fall," he says.

Sun may soon improve lambs, but consultant Lesley Stubbings warns that prime lamb producers should not let lambs go backwards.

"Finishers with lambs close to 40kg liveweight and worth £35 should think about pushing them on, as it will only take a small amount of feed to finish them."

As for choice of feed, Ms Stubbings recommends whole cereals when lambs are close to slaughter, but these must be introduced carefully.

"When you have any doubt about lambs eating these, then use a compound nut and ration feed levels to about 0.25-0.5kg/lamb a day." Even this level of feed intake may seem ambitious, as lambs can be notoriously difficult to start on hard feed.

To make whole cereals more palatable, add some sugar beet pulp or molasses meal, she says.