26 January 1996

Milk powders on trial

LAMBS reared on skimmed milk powder replacement out-perform those on whey-based milk replacers during the critical first two weeks post lambing.

The trend reverses between two and four weeks of age. These are the results of a trial at Teagasc Research Centre, Belclare, Eire, to ascertain performance differences between lambs fed on two types of milk replacer. As can be seen in the table, four different milk replacers were used in the trial. Diets 1 and 2 were whey based and 3 and 4 contained 67% and 55% skimmed milk powder, respectively.

Eleven Belclare and Belclare x Suffolk lambs were fed each diet ad lib. The trial was repeated twice. In all cases the replacer was mixed cold at a rate of 1kg powder to 4.5kg water (18% dry matter). Lambs were weighed at the beginning of the trial and then two and four weeks later. Throughout, clean water was available as well as an 18% crude protein lamb starter concentrate.

Milk powder intake was higher from both skimmed products. Dr Hanrahan, who supervised the trial, says that could indicate whey powders were less palatable. He adds that producers buying whey-based milk replacer, because of its approximate £170/t price advantage over a skimmed equivalent, should take more care of lambs in the first two weeks after lambing, when weight gain is inferior to lambs on skimmed milk powder.

"This is the most critical rearing period for orphan lambs when additional trauma from feeding a particular diet should be red-uced to a minimum," says Dr Hanrahan. &#42

Teagasc Research Centre replacer trial results

Intake (kg)ConcsInitial wtMid wtFinal wtGrowth rate

milk powder(kg)(kg)(kg)(kg)(g a day)

Diet 16.731.164.87.711.6242

Diet 27.581.035.17.410.4190

Diet 37.511.

Diet 48.911.684.99.412.5273