27 September 1996

Supplement feed for underfit ewes

PRODUCERS short of grass for flushing ewes should condition score the flock and supplementary feed ewes scoring below 3.5 to ensure they are on a rising plane of nutrition.

That is the advice from Signet consultant Roger Brown, who reports variable grass growth across the country.

"Rather than feeding the entire flock if you are short of grass, it is more cost-effective to target those which need feeding. I do not think there will be many over-fit ewes, but if there are do not be tempted to slim them down. Keep them on a steady plane."

For those in poor condition, Mr Brown says the choice of supplementary feed will depend on whats available on-farm. "When forage is short concentrates may be the only option. Feed blocks are fine, but there are cheaper ways of feeding."

He suggests offering ewes about 0.5kg of a 12-14% protein nut, depending on individual situations. Although producers may be worried about concentrate feeds affecting progesterone levels, that is less of a problem than poor condition, he warns.

Welsh consultants are urging customers not to panic, as rain could still provide a valuable grass flush. But they warn that fast growing herbage will need supplementing with hay to slow its passage through ewes digestive systems.