The Accidental Smallholder Forum

Livestock => Sheep => Topic started by: dixie on December 02, 2019, 03:46:55 pm

Title: Lambs in winter
Post by: dixie on December 02, 2019, 03:46:55 pm
Hi question regarding feeding lambs in winter, I lamb later these days in April, before I used to try and take the biggest to slaughter straight from weaning before Christmas, however now I lamb later they’re not ready until jan/feb time. Mine never seem to get that big, and always drop weight, I feed ad-lib hay but at the moment they’re in a fresh paddock so seem to be grazing rather than eating hay and I feed sheep mix twice a day, just a scoop daily is enough as anymore and they leave it so I guess they’re not hungry? I only have 9 lambs this year.  I don’t worm as have egg counts done, but Im interested to know what others feed and or any advice please, thank you.
Title: Re: Lambs in winter
Post by: Fleecewife on December 02, 2019, 03:52:46 pm
What breed do you keep @dixie ?    Our Primitives are renowned for not putting on weight over the winter no matter how much feed they get.  So we tend to overwinter them on hay, licky bucket and tree branches, then send them off in Aug at 16 months, after they have filled out on summer grass.  I've not kept commercial breeds so I don't know if they have the same problem.
Title: Re: Lambs in winter
Post by: dixie on December 02, 2019, 04:00:00 pm
Mine are Heinz 57’s  ;D  ewes are easy cares and the ram mixed breed, previous ram was a beltex.
Title: Re: Lambs in winter
Post by: twizzel on December 02, 2019, 04:01:09 pm
As above what breed are they? Most commercial bred April born lambs should be able to finish by Christmas. Even my tiny pure bred Lleyn pet lamb went fat in October, and he was born first March.


Are they up to date with fluke drench? Liver fluke won’t show up on worm egg counts until the fluke is at adult stage and could potentially have caused damage by then. Do they suffer from cocci? That would show on egg counts.


Other than that the grass loses nutritional value at this time of year, my lambs kept for breeding are on grass and a feed block and looking okay considering the weather.


If you’re still concerned and they are losing condition it might be worth getting the vet to look at them and maybe take some bloods ?
Title: Re: Lambs in winter
Post by: dixie on December 02, 2019, 04:31:24 pm
Thank you, I’ve not considered cocci, and no I’ve never used fluke drench should I be using that as routine?
Title: Re: Lambs in winter
Post by: bj_cardiff on December 02, 2019, 04:49:40 pm
I had the same issue with late born lambs, if they aren't ready by xmas then you really need to pile the feed into them and hope for the best, you could even house them, or just leave them till april/may when the grass is growing well. All mine did was grow over the winter but were far to lean for my buyer.
Title: Re: Lambs in winter
Post by: dixie on December 02, 2019, 05:07:11 pm
So I’m not doing anything wrong then?  Last years were small but I decided to take them anyway, they were really lean but really good. What weight should I expect them to be? Although condition scoring I’d say they were thin at the moment, maybe I should being them in then they’d eat the hay rather than grazing?
Title: Re: Lambs in winter
Post by: shep53 on December 02, 2019, 05:44:48 pm
Since you say they are grazing and not eating much hay plus getting  some feed which they leave if you give to much and are still small and lean then I would get a blood test done for mins  I would guess maybe cobolt deficient .   If you had a  fluke problem you would know with very lean and very dead sheep a quick FEC would show eggs or a blood test  . If you ask your neighbours or vet they should tell you if your area is deficient in mins
Title: Re: Lambs in winter
Post by: SallyintNorth on December 02, 2019, 08:12:50 pm
Try feeding cake once a day only, and if they aren’t eating at least 120g head/day, cut it out completely until they will eat at least that much.

Their rumen biome has to adjust to and from grass each time they get a feed of cake, so unless they are eating enough to be worth the physiological effort, it’s counter productive.  And for the same reason, it’s more efficient to feed the cake in one feed than two.

An alternative is to feed grass pellets instead of a cereal mix, so the biome adjustment is considerably less.

Do you feed hay first and cake after, or what?  Are they filling up on hay so don’t feel hungry for the cake, but perhaps would eat more cake if you fed that first, then could pick at the hay for the rest of the day?

Is the hay of good quality and nutritional value?  If it’s filling them up, and taking energy to digest, but delivering little nutrition...
Title: Re: Lambs in winter
Post by: dixie on December 02, 2019, 09:32:34 pm
I generally feed twice a day, sheep mix and fill hay rack when empty, I feed all year even if only a handful each just to keep them tame and to check they’re all ok.
Title: Re: Lambs in winter
Post by: twizzel on December 02, 2019, 09:39:22 pm
Would be worth doing some bloods and getting the vet to set eye over them.


Bringing them in onto hay won’t fatten them  on it’s own, they do need hard feed as well.
Title: Re: Lambs in winter
Post by: dixie on December 03, 2019, 09:15:46 am
Ok thank you for your help, I’ll give the vet a call  :sheep:
Title: Re: Lambs in winter
Post by: Rosemary on December 03, 2019, 11:35:26 am
I'm surprised your vet hasn't advised to fluke them at least once or twice a year, in autumn and spring. There are very few places in the UK now dry enough not to be able to sustain fluke, and it's carried by deer, rabbits and other mammals and isn't species specific (unlike worms). I'd have a word about that as s/he'll have information on local conditions.