13 December 1996

Wheat straw fed to early lambing ewes

EARLY lambing ewes housed last week at Murcott Mill Farm are fed a straw-based diet.

Brian and Carrie Hart, who farm 134ha (330 acres) at Long Buckley, Northants, lamb 550 of their 1200 Berrichon x Mule and Suffolk x Mule ewes at Long Buckley, Northants, in January.

"Housing is earlier than usual due to a shortage of grass and the poorer weather," says Mr Hart.

His early lambing ewes work hard, he claims, rearing their lambs indoors so they do not get the benefit of spring grass when milking. Weaning is at six weeks for finishing at 12 weeks.

"To reduce stress at housing we offer the ewes straw and concentrates in the field before they come in," says Mrs Hart.

She scanned the ewes at the end of October so they could be split into 25-ewe pens of those carrying twins, triplets and singles.

"They are also split into week of lambing, and those to lamb first are housed nearest the individual pens," she says.

Mr Hart feeds the ewes wheat straw – put out twice a day on pen floors – and a purchased 21% crude protein concentrate to balance the low protein straw.

Ewes carrying singles are fed 0.7kg a day of the concentrate, twins 1kg and triplets 1.36kg, he says. Concentrates are fed twice a day using a home-made dispenser- trailer for the ATV.

Extra minerals are also offered to prevent calcium deficiency, explains Mr Hart.

Brian and Carrie Hart feed wheat straw and concentrates twice a day to the January lambing ewes that were housed last week.


&#8226 Offer fresh straw twice a day.

&#8226 Feed 21% crude protein concentrate.

&#8226 Ration concentrate according to lambs carried.