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Author Topic: Feeding over the winter  (Read 3752 times)

Ermingtrude

  • Joined Mar 2017
Feeding over the winter
« on: November 06, 2017, 05:14:55 pm »
Hello lovely people.
I have read back over many topics about feeding, and I am still a bit unclear. We have 4 older ( 6y + ) Zwartbles ewes, along with 8 of their lambs from this April ( 6 girls, 2 castrated boys ) - they have ben getting a small token feed of pellets for training, but now looking at feeding more actively with hay. We were told the shop-brand feed was ok for castrated males/tups, but since found it may not be - as they have only been having a handful up until now, I doubt it has caused an issue - the boys have been fine, but should I now change ? They have some undercover hay if wanted, but haven't really bothered yet, as there is still plenty of grass. They are BS 3 for the lowest of them, 4 for the slightly pudgy Mums. Can the girls have ram food without issues, or do I need to do separate feeding ?  The store wasn't sure, and the bag for ""all sheep"" seemed to have the same ingredients, including the same amount of minerals, as the basic ewe nuts I was already using. Any advice appreciated.

Marches Farmer

  • Joined Dec 2012
  • Herefordshire
Re: Feeding over the winter
« Reply #1 on: November 06, 2017, 05:44:45 pm »
It may help to be clear on what exactly you're feeding them for.  Has the grass run out?  Are you worried it's of poor quality?   Are the females pregnant and getting close to lambing?  Are the males on the thin side?  If your grass is reasonable in quality and quantity I wouldn't bother to feed the males hard feed other than to train them to the bucket.  You could offer hay and see whether they take it but they generally stick to grass if there's enough of it.  The females, depending on stage of pregnancy, condition, age and quality of grazing, may benefit from an 18% protein pellet in the last 6-8 weeks of pregnancy but I expect someone with experience of your breed will soon be along to tell you about their own feeding regime.

Ermingtrude

  • Joined Mar 2017
Re: Feeding over the winter
« Reply #2 on: November 06, 2017, 05:54:48 pm »
Sorry, I wasn't really clear. The 4 Mums are not being bred again and are essentially lawnmowers. The 6 female lambs from this year and not being bred this year, so just waiting for next year. The 2 castrated boys are in with them, and again, are just going to be pets. The grass is fine - 8 acres, with only the 12 sheep on it, and all are in fine condition. I have hay in ready for when they need it, have put a bit out to see if they are hungry for it. Was more worried about having been giving ewe pellets to the males, even only in small amounts for training, and if I then need to feed more over the winter, what I should change to  - if anything. We have 3 Wiltshires from last year, that are going to be introduced to the ram in a week or so, and they are in a different field, with a mineral bucket and ewe nuts, ready to ( hopefully ) get pregnant.   I had been reading about urinary stones in the boys, and got a bit worried !

Buttermilk

  • Joined Jul 2014
Re: Feeding over the winter
« Reply #3 on: November 07, 2017, 06:23:24 am »
I have 19 zwartbles and they are getting nothing but grass at the moment.  12 of the girls should be in lamb but not in the final 8 weeks yet.  The ewe lambs are in with the adults and the 3 rams are in a seperate paddock at the far end of the place.  Here the grass is still growing albeit slowly.  Once the grass has nearly gone I will be putting a large bale of haylage in the field.  Last year it was a couple of weeks after it was put out that they were wanting to eat it in preference to grass.  I ran the females daily through a race and shed off the ones for extra hard feed closer to lambing.

The rams and ewe lambs only had hay/haylage and a lick bucket.

crobertson

  • Joined Sep 2015
Re: Feeding over the winter
« Reply #4 on: November 07, 2017, 07:36:30 pm »
I personally wouldn't feed any extra at this time of year to animals that aren't being bred from, they only need maintenance until spring. I found that if ewe lambs were kept in good condition over winter for breeding the year after, following a whole summer of grass and no lambs to rear by autumn they were way too fat ! So for us any lambs over winter have a yellow rockie at all times, grass until about mid december and then hay introduced until spring. They would only get hard feed in extreme weather or persistent snow which is unlikely ..... but they do get a handful of coarse mix each once a week as a treat ! Can't beat coarse mix as a good all rounder for ewes and wethers.

bj_cardiff

  • Joined Feb 2017
  • Carmarthenshire
Re: Feeding over the winter
« Reply #5 on: November 07, 2017, 08:25:20 pm »
Maybe give them a mineral bucket or mineral lick but I def wouldn't be feeding them nuts. If you want to keep them tame, just keep a handful of them in your pocket and hand feed them to 'favoured' ewes. Offer adlib hay/haylage once the grass has gone. You really don't want them to come out of the winter too well/fat if their not in lamb as it'll be difficult to stop them getting obese over the summer.

The only time I feed my ewes nuts is 3/4 weeks before lambing, and then I stop when their turned out with their lambs.

Ermingtrude

  • Joined Mar 2017
Re: Feeding over the winter
« Reply #6 on: November 07, 2017, 10:19:23 pm »
Thats brilliant , thank you. I shall put in a bucket and just do hand feeding of small amounts to keep them tame ( to be fair, I am a push over, and they flatten me on sight ) and then add hay and food if needed over the winter.  You are lovely, thank you for the advice :)

Fleecewife

  • Joined May 2010
  • South Lanarkshire
    • Wester Gladstone Hebridean Sheep
Re: Feeding over the winter
« Reply #7 on: November 07, 2017, 11:32:04 pm »
You are right to be worried about urinary calculi in male sheep, most especially wethers (because they have a narrower urethra than entire tups).  If you must feed them, then make sure it's a feed designed for tups, not just a general sheep feed.  If you do have a general coarse mix, then pick out the crushed peas and maize, and feed a couple of bits of that to your wethers, very occasionally.  Really, hand feeding male sheep, whether wethers or entire males, is best avoided, as they can grow up very pushy towards you, and with a big sheep like zwartbles that can be dangerous.  Unless you live somewhere very cold and snowy, keep the treats down to an absolute minumum, one or two small nuts per ewe.  In deep snow, we feed our tups Carr's Champion Tup, and we feed that to the ewes too leading up to lambing, as our breed doesn't need 18% protein, so the tup mix is fine.
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SallyintNorth

  • Joined Feb 2011
  • Cornwall
  • Rarely short of an opinion but I mean well
    • Trelay Cohousing Community
Re: Feeding over the winter
« Reply #8 on: November 08, 2017, 07:07:21 am »
We’ve started using Dengie All Stock grass pellets for all our stock (except pigs) and are very pleased with it.  If feeding on the ground or in a trough we moisten it for greedy sheep or you get the occasional cough.  Being grass it doesn’t require them to alter their digestion, which when we are often just feeding a handful to keep them tame, we think must be a good idea.  And we have no worries about the wethers, about the sheep getting cattle feed, etc.

We put out Himalayan rock salt too.
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

SallyintNorth

  • Joined Feb 2011
  • Cornwall
  • Rarely short of an opinion but I mean well
    • Trelay Cohousing Community
Re: Feeding over the winter
« Reply #9 on: November 08, 2017, 07:10:19 am »
We have 3 Wiltshires from last year, that are going to be introduced to the ram in a week or so, and they are in a different field, with a mineral bucket and ewe nuts, ready to ( hopefully ) get pregnant.   I had been reading about urinary stones in the boys, and got a bit worried !


I’m a bit bothered about these.  If they’re getting ewe nuts now, you’re going to have to change their feed when the tup goes in, as he can’t have ewe nuts.  If they need hard feed, I think I’d have them on a tup or all-stock feed, which you can just carry on feeding when the tup goes in. 
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

twizzel

  • Joined Apr 2012
Re: Feeding over the winter
« Reply #10 on: November 08, 2017, 07:31:56 am »
Badminton Pedigree Sheep mix is also suitable for ewes and rams/wethers.

Ermingtrude

  • Joined Mar 2017
Re: Feeding over the winter
« Reply #11 on: November 08, 2017, 02:09:41 pm »
Thank you, yes, it was the feeding of the sheep nuts with the ram that I was worried about, and the potential to have already caused harm to the wethers, although I have obviously stopped feeding them, and when the vet was out yesterday to give the horses their annual jab, she had a look at the boys and didn't seem to think they had been harmed. None of them need it for a weight point of view, but bringing them into a pen for a few handfuls when I do the daily checks has been easier with. I have ordered some Dengie All Stock grass pellets to be the hand taming food of choice, and will get some Badminton Pedigree Sheep mix in for when they need something more.   I shall certainly be careful about them getting pushy - the wethers were bottle fed, and having done a lot of reading, have heard that they can get difficult. I think I have been lucky, and they are both still nice, and as still just 6 months, not too large. I would hate to find them getting pushy when they are the size of the Mum.

Thank you again for your invaluable help, advice  and information. It is very appreciated.

twizzel

  • Joined Apr 2012
Re: Feeding over the winter
« Reply #12 on: November 08, 2017, 03:48:29 pm »
My sheep are bucket tame... but they definitely don't need feeding every day. I think they get a handful nuts maybe once every couple of weeks when not being fed for lambing. I want them tame enough to follow a bucket for moving fields/bringing in but not tame enough to mow you down and come running to the gate whenever you enter the field  :roflanim:  a tip is when you do rattle a bucket, call them too. Mine come to call without a bucket just from associating my voice with food  ;)

Marches Farmer

  • Joined Dec 2012
  • Herefordshire
Re: Feeding over the winter
« Reply #13 on: November 08, 2017, 06:50:55 pm »
One of the things I like to do when visitors mention sheep are stupid is to lean casually on a gate and, without even looking at the sheep, call them up, generally by saying "Lead them up to me 247" or something similar.   The visitors don't know that they'd all come running anyway and 247 is always at the front because she's got the longest legs.

Ermingtrude

  • Joined Mar 2017
Re: Feeding over the winter
« Reply #14 on: November 08, 2017, 07:16:01 pm »
One of the things I like to do when visitors mention sheep are stupid is to lean casually on a gate and, without even looking at the sheep, call them up, generally by saying "Lead them up to me 247" or something similar.   The visitors don't know that they'd all come running anyway and 247 is always at the front because she's got the longest legs.

love it !  The Zwartbles are known as the Black Avalanche, as they descend on the gate at speed when they hear me calling.  I do something similar with my dog, who does a spinny/leaping/twisting leap if I point to one side. He then gets a treat.  To see the faces of those not in the know, when I ask him for a " double twisting, semi leap to the right with full turn and landing on all fours.." and he does - is epic.  You could say "double hamburger on toast with a milk chaser" and point, and you'd get the same leap !

 

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