Smallholders Insurance from Greenlands

Author Topic: Winter feeding  (Read 8052 times)

smee2012

  • Joined Sep 2012
Winter feeding
« on: November 17, 2012, 09:47:52 pm »
Hello all.

I have eight Zwartbles sheep (this year's lambs) on my two acres at the moment. The ram lambs (4 of them) are being slaughtered next month hopefully so we will be left with just the four ewe lambs. The field (which is split into two) is doing fairly well, despite the high water table, but I don't hold out any hopes that the sheep will be able to survive on just that over the winter, even with using the fields in rotation. I have started to give them a little hard feed once a day (just a large scoop each) but I do want to get some hay in for them.

So my question is, should I be buying hay or haylage? Which is best for sheep? I know that they shouldn't really be eating silage so I am left with the first two options. Also, I know they they are rather fussy and won't eat hay off the ground so I am thinking of just putting it into haynets on the fence posts. Will this be ok? And how much should they have each day?

Thanks in advance!

Pedwardine

  • Joined Feb 2012
  • South Lincolnshire
Re: Winter feeding
« Reply #1 on: November 17, 2012, 10:01:52 pm »
I know that horned breeds are in danger of getting caught in nets, in fact I've known of one die from strangulation in a hay net. All sheep, however, tend to 'hoof' their hay so, unless someone says otherwise from experience on this one, I'd be wary about giving them food in nets in case they get caught up in them. At lambing I've used old feed sacks packed tight with hay with a corner cut out large enough for a nose to get to the hay to pull it out and tied by the opened (wrapped around nice and tight to avoid the top opening up) end to a hook on the wall I guess you could do the same outside with the sack tied to the top rail of a fence or a fence post. They'll then eat what they want when they want without too much wastage and soiling of their hay.

smee2012

  • Joined Sep 2012
Re: Winter feeding
« Reply #2 on: November 17, 2012, 10:35:40 pm »
Thanks for the reply. My sheep don't have horns but I take your comments on board re the 'hoofing'. It is possible to get haynets with really small holes so I might have a look at them, or perhaps investigate sheep-friendly mangers.

SallyintNorth

  • Joined Feb 2011
  • Cornwall
  • Rarely short of an opinion but I mean well
    • Trelay Cohousing Community
Re: Winter feeding
« Reply #3 on: November 18, 2012, 12:06:13 am »
I don't know how big your scoop is, but I wouldn't be giving untupped ewe lambs more than 1/2 to 1 lb cake per day.  (My largest scoop holds 4lbs, hence I thought I'd post!  ;))

After that, hay.  They'll eat it if they need it.  Feed hay twice a day, as much as you think they'll eat each time, so there isn't too much waste.  A wire mesh (2" squares) rack, protected from rain, is best, IMO.
Don't listen to the money men - they know the price of everything and the value of nothing

Live in a cohousing community with small farm for our own use.  Dairy cows (rearing their own calves for beef), pigs, sheep for meat and fleece, ducks and hens for eggs, veg and fruit growing

lachlanandmarcus

  • Joined Aug 2010
  • Aberdeenshire
Re: Winter feeding
« Reply #4 on: November 18, 2012, 12:36:21 am »
Dont use haynets, even the small holed ones have holes too wide for a sheep leg and the part where you gather it and tie it at the top would be a danger too. Sheep are the ultimate suicide machines and very greedy.
Attach a small wire hayrack to a fence post or even use a freezer basket if you can make a lid for it, or if you can find a wire bicycle basket they often have lids already. Or a small cat cage. Anything you can fasten and that they can pull small bits of hay out of.
 

SteveHants

  • Joined Aug 2011
Re: Winter feeding
« Reply #5 on: November 18, 2012, 12:40:15 am »
Depends where you are, IMO. My ewes get no hard feed to speak of in winter - they have access to bucket licks at tupping and mineral blocks the rest of the time. If there is no grass or it is covered with snow then I will bung some hay about, but then they are stocked at low density (1.5/ac). Older ewes will get hi-mag beetlics pre-lambing to keep away twin lamb disease. They may get spoiled this winter because I seem to have been given lots of hay in various guises (some seems so poor, it'd be better off stuck in a pile and burnt, bur I'll see if they eat it, some is good stuff), and after the summer they have had they don't look as great as they did this time last year, although condition score seems to be about 2.5 still - I just am not sure if they will maintain it.

SallyintNorth

  • Joined Feb 2011
  • Cornwall
  • Rarely short of an opinion but I mean well
    • Trelay Cohousing Community
Re: Winter feeding
« Reply #6 on: November 18, 2012, 05:54:15 am »
Generally we don't cake our ewes either, unless there's snow on the ground, but (a) this year has been a tough one on all livestock (and us!) so we're caking them now - they need the help, and (b) we would normally lightly cake the ewe lambs through their first winter to make sure they grow on well - remembering we're a north Cumbrian hill farm with a different climate to Steve in Hampshire. ;)
Don't listen to the money men - they know the price of everything and the value of nothing

Live in a cohousing community with small farm for our own use.  Dairy cows (rearing their own calves for beef), pigs, sheep for meat and fleece, ducks and hens for eggs, veg and fruit growing

smee2012

  • Joined Sep 2012
Re: Winter feeding
« Reply #7 on: November 18, 2012, 10:11:31 am »
I don't know how big your scoop is, but I wouldn't be giving untupped ewe lambs more than 1/2 to 1 lb cake per day.  (My largest scoop holds 4lbs, hence I thought I'd post!  ;))

Thanks Sally. It's not actually a proper feed scoop but a baby food bowl with a little handle on the side. I wouldn't have thought the ewe nuts it holds weighs more than about 1/2lb but I'll weigh it today to make sure!

I think we are going to buy 20 bales of hay (the small rectangular bales) to start with and see how we get on. Hubby hasn't had time to build a hay store yet so we've had to make room in one of our sheds. Next year we should have a fair idea of how much hay our sheep will eat over the winter!

Wow, keeping sheep is such a huge learning curve!  :dunce:



SallyintNorth

  • Joined Feb 2011
  • Cornwall
  • Rarely short of an opinion but I mean well
    • Trelay Cohousing Community
Re: Winter feeding
« Reply #8 on: November 18, 2012, 10:35:28 am »
I calculate hay on the basis that 40 adult commercial sheep will eat a small rectangular bale of hay a day if they have no access to grass.  (Hill sheep you can say 50 sheep per bale in one day.)  About half that much hay if they have decent grazing available.  Up here, normally hay is not needed until after Christmas, new grass should be growing by mid- to late March. 

You'll use a lot more, however, if you let them waste / spoil it.  So try to only offer what they'll eat straight away, and offer it twice a day, or even three times.

Provided you manage it carefully, you should have more than plenty with your 20 bales, and will have plenty extra in hand should the weather turn evil.  Any they don't eat this year will be perfectly ok for next year provided it's kept off the ground and dry. :)
Don't listen to the money men - they know the price of everything and the value of nothing

Live in a cohousing community with small farm for our own use.  Dairy cows (rearing their own calves for beef), pigs, sheep for meat and fleece, ducks and hens for eggs, veg and fruit growing

downsized

  • Joined Oct 2012
  • Dumfriesshire
Re: Winter feeding
« Reply #9 on: November 18, 2012, 11:38:39 am »
Wouldn't normally feed our ewes anything other that 1/4kg of rolls for the January lambers but they were losing condition due to the apalling weather we've had here and most of the ground is waterlogged. Sam has upped the rolls to 1/2kg/hd/day. We have both hay and haylage but Sam prefers to feed his ewes on hay, when they get it, the coos will be on haylage.

Ladygrey

  • Joined Jun 2012
  • Basingstoke
Re: Winter feeding
« Reply #10 on: November 18, 2012, 11:44:50 am »
My sheep prefer hay over haylage

Even though I dont have horned sheep, they have got very stuck in haynets before so I would say definitely dont use them!

My sheep have adlib hay over winter and feed block buckets, will be first time I have ewes lambing here at home so will have to see how they go (usually just had bought in lambs) will probly put them on a very small amount of mix closer to lambing but not sure how much ontop of the buckets yet.

:)

colliewoman

  • Global Moderator
  • Joined Jul 2011
  • Pilton
  • Caution! May spontaneously talk rabbits!
Re: Winter feeding
« Reply #11 on: November 18, 2012, 06:03:45 pm »
My guys are on ad lib hay but due to a cock up re grazing are on limited areas at the moment  ::) . IMO if you are going to feed lots of hay to a few sheep it is worth improvising a hay rack. Mine holds a whole bale snugly and I made it from and old cot :thumbsup:
I don't mind buying hay for the girlies, but I do mind paying for what a few sheep waste! I find the less sheep the more waste ???  I guess the bigger the flock the more competition to snarf every last strand. If I fed mine on the floor they would just jump up and down on it and walk off in disgust ;D
We'll turn the dust to soil,
Turn the rust of hate back into passion.
It's not water into wine
But it's here, and it's happening.
Massive,
but passive.


Bring the peace back

Big Benny Shep

  • Joined Mar 2011
  • Skipton
Re: Winter feeding
« Reply #12 on: November 18, 2012, 09:00:33 pm »
If I fed mine on the floor they would just jump up and down on it and walk off in disgust ;D


 :roflanim:


in my biggest field where i have no hay racks i put  it on those big clumps of grass, a slice on each one and they always hoover it up - but most of mine are texels and i swear they would eat and eat till they exploded!
BIG Ben
We have 80(ish) texels and texel x suffolks, 10 lleyns, 21NE Mules, 2 Dexters with calves, Monty the labrador, Dottie, Bracken and Poppy the collies and 30 assorted hens.

smee2012

  • Joined Sep 2012
Re: Winter feeding
« Reply #13 on: November 18, 2012, 09:37:55 pm »
Thanks all.

Sally, just in case you were worried about my sheep over-eating, I weighed the food I've been giving them. The bowl I've been using holds just over 1/2 lb and I've been giving them one bowl each for the past week. The boys are getting just under 1 lb of lamb creep pellets each but they are being fattened up. Dave especially needs weight on as he gets his big fat stupid head stuck in the fence most days  :dunce: and so doesnt get as much grass as the others  ::)  Thanks also for your info re how much hay to put out each day - very useful  :thumbsup:

I think we'll end up constructing some sort of fence straddling manger to put hay in, rather than haynets. As many people have said, sheep are pretty determined to finish themselves off without my aiding and abetting them!  ;)

feldar

  • Joined Apr 2011
  • lymington hampshire
Re: Winter feeding
« Reply #14 on: November 19, 2012, 04:42:02 pm »
When we had all that snow a couple of years ago, we took hay down to the ewes and all they did was lay on it and sleep!! good hay it was too, so we don't really bother now, just perhaps feed a bit in a moveable manger. They would rather shovel the snow away with their nose and eat underneath ;D

 

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