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Stackyard News Jan 2010

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New Feeding Regime Boosts Output in Yorkshire Dales Sheep Flock

Lambing percentage has been boosted by more than 30% and mismothering and twin lamb disease virtually eliminated following the adoption of a new feeding regime in John Hickson’s 420-ewe sheep flock at Lower Bark House, Austwick, in the Yorkshire Dales.

Strathclyde Nutrition’s Sweet Corn buckets and feed blocks were introduced three years ago to reduce the work-load but Mr Hickson has been pleasantly surprised by the additional benefits which the new regime has brought.

“We’re getting more twin lambs and have increased the lambing percentage to an average of 193% over the past two years, compared with 160% previously,” says Mr Hickson. “In addition, we’ve had no cases of twin lamb disease since switching to Sweet Corn and blocks. Mismothering is no longer a problem and we have been able to reduce the work involved by feeding rolls only once a day compared with twice a day previously.”

Strathclyde’s high-energy supplement, Sweet Corn, is introduced a month before lambing to supplement the high energy rolls fed to ewes carrying twin and triplet lambs to ensure an adequate supply of energy to the pregnant ewe and help ewes through the precarious lambing period.

Sweet Corn has been designed to help prevent twin lamb disease. As its energy sources, it contains maize starch and propylene glycol, both excellent precursors of glucose. Feeding large amounts of oils and fats to at risk ewes may increase the risk of ketosis (twin lamb).

Sweet Corn contains several other nutrients which are added to improve the health and performance of the ewe and her lambs. Feeding omega 3 oils to ewes in late pregnancy has been shown to improve lamb birth weights, lamb vigour and lamb viability and for these reasons, it has been added to Sweet Corn. In addition to excellent vitamin and trace elements levels, Sweet Corn contains added by-pass protein and methioinine. Protein quality is particularly important for embryo development, colostrum and milk production. It also plays a key role in liver fat metabolism and hence the prevention of twin lamb.

The provision of one Sweet Corn bucket per 40 ewes as a supplement allows shy feeders sufficient access and helps ewes which are thin and susceptible to ketosis (twin lamb disease).

Ewes are lambed inside and after turn-out, move on to Strathclyde’s Superblock Gold feed blocks which are made available over the entire grazing area, along with rolls.

Superblock Gold, has the highest energy (13 MJ/kg DM) and natural protein (20%) content of any feedblock. It provides a carefully balanced combination of minerals, vitamins and trace elements, along with Sel-Plex and omega 3 fish oils to promote good health and productivity during times of high energy demand, such as late pregnancy and early lactation.

One of the reasons for using Superblock Gold at this stage is the lack of urea in the product. “The new growth of spring grass available to the ewes at this stage contains ample non-protein nitrogen, feeding urea to my ewes would be inefficient” says Mr Hickson.

“We are delighted with the performance of the ewes since introducing Strathclyde Sweet Corn and feed blocks,” says Mr Hickson. “We’ve increased the output and this – coupled with current high prices for prime lambs – has resulted in a welcome improvement in the profitability of the flock.”

The North Country Cheviot x Lleyn ewes are crossed with Texel and Beltex rams with all progeny finished on the farm.

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