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What should I consider for winter feeding ewes?

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What should I consider for winter feeding ewes?
By Lamlac - Volac 27 days ago


Have you got enough forage?

Consider about your flock size and do some calculations to see if you have adequate to see you through the winter. Table 1 provides approximate forage quantities required for a flock of 300, 70kg ewes fed ad-lib for three months of winter.

Forage type

kg/ewe

Quantity (t) for 300 ewes

Hay

120

36

Big bale silage (40% dry matter)

270

81

Clamp silage (30% dry matter)

350

105

Table 1: approximate forage quantities required by 300, 70kg ewes for three months

Forage quality – what’s it like? The cutting date and stage of growth for hay or silage will have a significant influence on quality. Early cuts with heaps of leafs and little stem will have high feeding value whereas late cuts with lots of stem and little leaf will be of poor digestibility.

Analysis: Getting an analysis done on quality of supplements forage digestibility (D value) will help you to plan winter feed purchases and the amount of supplement required close to lambing.

Take representative samples: Ensure you are taking a number of samples if you are going to analyse your forage. There is no point in taking one handful of hay or silage and expecting that to represent the supply. Recommended sampling is

  • Hay bales: take samples form the middle of a number of bales – six or eight bales from each stack
  • Silage: take core samples from at least five bales per stack or a minimum of three cores for a 500 tonne clamp

Interpreting the results: Ask a professional if you have any questions or trouble understanding all the detail on a silage or hay analysis.

Finally - talk to your compound feed/straights rep now to get details of feed formulations and prices for this winter. Remember that high quality forages need very little supplementation for ewes in late pregnancy – perhaps just a protein supplement.