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Sheep Feed can be high quality roughage stored either as hay or low moisture, grass legume silage or occasionally chopped green feed
The projected feed requirements for a given period is calculated and the projected feed availability for that period is estimated to determine feed budgeting at any time of the year.
Determine how much supplementary feed is needed if feed availability is less than feed requirements.
The values given for feed requirements are mostly based on a medium-framed Merino of 50 kg mature weight in good condition with no fleece which is usually referred to as the standard reference weight of sheep.
Their requirements will need to be adjusted if sheep are of a different frame size or condition.
The energy requirements of sheep will also vary with the feed quality they are eating, their current status of nutrition, and the amount of walking they are doing to find the feed.
The energy requirements for ewes, depends on whether they are dry, pregnant or lactating.
Sheep that do not produce wool have a 2 to 3 percent lower requirement to maintain the same weight.
The reproductive ewe of any class of sheep has the most variable feed requirements.
There can be a big biggest impact on production in the sheep enterprise if her need is not met.
The energy requirements of ewe increase slowly over early pregnancy and rapidly in the last 50 days before lambing.
Energy requirements greatly increases during lactation, and peaks at around 25 days after lambing.
Ewes in late pregnancy should be fed a diet containing more than 15 percent crude protein as they have a higher requirement for protein.
Weaners should be growing at least 50 grams per day (g/d) as they need to keep actively growing to stay healthy.
Weaners that will be turning slaughter will need to grow at rates above 150 g/d and many growers aim for more than 250 g/d to reach slaughter targets.
Ewe weaners will need to gain as much weight as possible before conception to be mated as older lambs.
High energy and protein levels should be there in supplements for weaners to ensure growth can occur.
At least 12.5 percent protein should be present in the supplement for weaners that weigh over 20 kg and at least 15 percent protein should be there for weaners that weigh less than 20 kg to ensure that adequate levels are covered by any shortfall in the pasture.
Selecting the type of supplement to feed our sheep depends very much on the energy and protein requirements of the sheep, availability, cost and convenience.
Your supplements such as grain, hay or silage should be tested for quality.
The variables that are important in determining accurate rations to satisfy maintenance or growth are metabolizable energy, protein and bulk density.
Your feed can be tested for energy and protein, or a table of common feed values can be used or choosing the right supplementary feed.
The cost of the feed per energy unit in megajoules or protein can be determined by using the feed cost calculator.
You can also choose a feed mix and view the energy and protein levels, and cost of the mix with the calculator.
The protein requirements varies with the state of the sheep.
The protein requirement for weaner lambs and pregnant or lactating ewes need 15 percent, growing adult sheep need 12 percent and at least 9 percent is needed for survival.
Sheep for maintenance can be fed in the paddock as a supplement to pastures or stubbles, or as a complete ration in the paddock or in a confined area.
Usually, rations are in the form of whole grain, hay, pellets or a mix of these feeds.
The roughage portions of a ration and grain can be provided together in a trough, or the grain in troughs or on the ground and the hay can be offered either on the ground, or in a hayrack.
You should feed every day when introducing a new feed to sheep and, the ration can gradually be fed out less frequently after this introductory period.
Each feed amount is small and dominant animals will eat more than their share at the expense of smaller, weaker animals if sheep are fed daily.
More uniform liveweight will be there across a mob and fewer losses, if sheep are fed less often.
Dry sheep should be fed twice weekly or weekly, ewes in late pregnancy or lambing should be fed every second day, lactating ewes (after lambing has finished) should be fed twice weekly, early weaned lambs and feed ad lib should be fed until they reach 20 kg liveweight. Then you need to feed every second day after the introduction program leading up to a or maintenance or survival ration.
Feed the roughage before the grain if possible so that all sheep get some roughage and the risk of hungry sheep overeating grain resulting in acidosis can be reduced.
Generally, cereal grains are the basis of a ration or supplement because they are high in energy and are usually readily available.
Most cereal grains contain an energy level of 10 to13 megajoules per kilogram of dry matter (MJ/kgDM) and contain 5 to 15 percent crude protein.
Sheep should be vaccinated before introducing high starch diets to reduce the risk of pulpy kidney disease.
There is an acidosis risk as a result of their high starch content in cereal grains.
Cereal based supplements or diets should be introduced gradually over 10 to 20 days depending on the feed and situation to allow the rumen time to adapt.
The descending order of risk of acidosis is wheat, triticale, barley and oats, where oats are the safest grain to feed sheep.
You should allow at least 10 days for oats and low energy pellets and 14 days for wheat, barley and triticale when introducing maintenance rations.
Switching from one grain to another should be carried out slowly over 7 days.
Oats or sheep pellets can be introduced slowly to sheep depending on their cereal grain or energy content.
Adding seconds grain in mixed rations can be a useful because they are generally higher in crude protein and have less starch than fully formed grains.
So, the amount of lupins included in the diet can be reduced, particularly if you are feeding lambs.
The protein and energy level need to be tested because they are likely to have a variable nutrient content due to the degree of pinching and the presence of weed seeds.
Seconds grain should also be introduced gradually because even they pose an acidosis risk.
Lupins pose a lower acidosis risk than cereal grains as they are a good source of protein and have a high energy content, a very low level of starch and a high level of fibre.
It is important to introduce lupins gradually to sheep because the sudden introduction of high amounts of lupins to hungry stock may result in ammonia toxicity.
Lupins can upset the ratio of nitrogen to sulfur as they are are low in sulfur.
A mineral supplement containing sulfate or sulfur (for example, gypsum) can be added to the diet to overcome the imbalance.
Lupins can be fed out infrequently as long as the same total quantity of feed is presented to the stock over the same time because lupins do not contain starch and therefore they do not cause digestive upsets.
Beans, peas and vetches pose an acidosis risk as they contain a high level of energy and protein as well as also have a high level of starch,
They need to be introduced slowly as sheep may take some time to adapt to these feeds if they have not been exposed to them before.
They need to be fed at least twice a week to prevent acidosis.
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