Extra feed could be on menu where stock is outlying

10 January 1997

Extra feed could be on menu where stock is outlying

Extra feed could be on menu where stock is outlying

By FWlivestock reporters

SUPPLEMENTARY feeding will minimise nutritional concerns where sheep and cattle are outlying during the continuing cold spell.

North Wales-based ADAS nutritionist David Peers says cattle and sheep generally do better in cold weather than when it is wet and windy, provided they have enough feed. "Excellent silage and hay was made on many farms last summer, which is all suckler cows and ewes some way off lambing need," says Dr Peers.

"The important thing is to monitor the condition of stock and introduce supplementary feeds if necessary. Even though silage is not feeding as well as it analyses this winter, sucklers should be fine on silage alone until six weeks before calving, after which energy and protein levels should be increased."

February and March lambing ewes should now be receiving extra feed. While nuts are convenient Dr Peers says a home mix including the relatively cheap cereals on the market is worth considering.

But he is urging clients to pay attention to scanning results that indicate more hill ewes are carrying twins.

"Identify these and ensure they are not allowed to lose condition at this stage, or milk supply will be affected later."

Derek Kennedy of Lancashire ADAS advises handling ewes to assess level of fitness before introducing trough feeding.

"Dont offer poor quality silage as an emergency stop-gap measure in this early bad weather. Check the condition of March lambers; those that score 2.5-3 should be able to cope without putting out the troughs this early providing the forage is good quality," he says.

Blocks are worth considering to overcome short-term harsh weather conditions when normal concentrate feeding would not normally start for at least another month in spring lambing flocks. But he cautions against ewes becoming too fat.

"Dont over-react. Stop-start feeding and over-fat ewes must be avoided."

Once the cold spell is over and it starts to thaw, poached grass will have little nutritional value, adds Neil Pickard, ADAS beef and sheep development manager.

"Ensure theres adequate forage available – hay or silage are the best options. When straw only is fed, it must be balanced with additional protein."

Assess the condition of lowland breeding ewes. Those within eight weeks of lambing should receive supplements, he says.

Out-wintered sucklers on poached grassland should receive forage to appetite, preferably hay or silage, says Mr Pickard.

"Straw must be supplemented by 2-3kg concentrate. In the east, producers may be feeding potatoes and vegetable waste with straw, but again it needs to be balanced with additional protein."

Producers should also consider weaning spring calvers now, but avoid overfeeding them in the run-up to calving, he warns.


&#8226 Monitor stock condition.

&#8226 Provide adequate forage.

ll Supplement if necessary.

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