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    Energy-Rich Diets Maximise Ewe and Lamb Potential
22/02/08

Feeding diets with rumen protected fat to in-lamb ewes will help to plug the natural energy deficit during late pregnancy and early lactation, according to established trial work at ADAS Rosemaund.

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ewe and lambs

One hundred ewes were introduced eight weeks prior to lambing to concentrate fed initially at 0.5kg/day, rising to 1.1 kg/day at lambing. Half the ewes were fed a control concentrate with an ME of 12.7 MJ/kg DM, while the other half received a concentrate with 10% of the cereal replaced with Megalac, a rumen protected fat, which increased its ME to 13.9 MJ/kg DM.

Post lambing, the concentrate fed to the flock was stepped up to 1.4 kg/day with respective energy levels of 12.5 MJ/kg DM for the control and 14.0 MJ/kg DM for the Megalac-supplemented concentrate. Ad lib straw was available throughout the trial.

Ewes offered the higher energy concentrate reared significantly more lambs, with lamb growth rate up to 19.4 % higher to weaning compared to the control group. The trial showed that ewes carrying twins reared 95% of their lambs, 5% more than those fed the control diet. The trend was much more apparent in the triplet group where all the ewes reared 100% of their lambs, compared with only 60% of lambs successfully reared by those fed the control diet. In addition, the ewes fed Megalac were in better body condition at weaning, scoring an average 2.4 compared with 2.0 for the ewes fed the control diet.”

Volac International’s Dr Richard Kirkland explains. “The last six weeks of pregnancy is a period when a ewe finds it increasingly difficult to eat sufficient to satisfy her energy requirements, while the presence of rapidly growing lambs is in fact reducing the volume of her rumen. Consequently, she can lose condition rapidly which can lead to serious health issues, including twin lamb disease.”

He adds: “Feeding Megalac in late pregnancy and early lactation will increase diet energy density and can be fed by either top dressing on forage or as a bought-in compound or blended feed.”

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