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Author Topic: Feed management  (Read 219 times)

Mamohau

  • Joined Jan 2022
Feed management
« on: January 13, 2022, 12:25:37 pm »
Hi,

We have primitives largely, only about 20, some pregnant, some wethers, some rams (separated from the others), in two separate flocks.

I'm getting very confused about feed:

we flushed Soay using nuts and coarse mix.  Now they're getting coarse mix only, not every day. Flock is 5 pregnant ewes and 2 wethers for meat this year.

Boreray aren't in lamb: 4 ewes, 3 ewe lambs, 1 ram lamb & 1 ram (both separate from ewes obviously).  One of the ewes seriously lost weight after lambing last year, possibly because of her sister dying and she might have been feeding those twins too.

To feed up that ewe I was advised to use sugar beet.  Then someone said Alfalfa and nuts. Then someone said rolled oats (or barley, can't remember which).  Then I couldn't get ewe nuts (no stock) so someone said creep.   ???

Now it seems that the barley/oats mix is too rich for the younger lambs and they're scouring.

The Alfalfa can cause something in rams.

Ewe nuts are a no-no for rams.

So, I'm feeding the poor condition ewe creep and beet which she loves (I separate her out).

The remaining girls get creep and charcoal (for the scouring lambs).

I'm giving the rams a bit of alfalfa and a bit of beet (it's a keep them friendly feed only). 

I'm trying to understand the different feed regimes and what's best.

Is there any literature which says which feeds are best for which sheep at which stage? I need something fairly definitive that I can refer to, and be flexible with according to the sheep.

Re the scouring, they were wormed not long ago and I'm doing an FEC when I can get them in, so that's in hand. 

Thank you from a
Very confused trainee shepherdess!

Fleecewife

  • Joined May 2010
  • South Lanarkshire
    • ScotHebs
Re: Feed management
« Reply #1 on: January 13, 2022, 01:30:23 pm »
Hi @Mamohau


Whereabouts are you?


(I could not tell from your account whether it was a Boreray or Soay which is underweight, but they are both Primitives so the following still holds (I had assumed it was a Soay))



Soays as you say are primitives so should not need extra feeding until about 6 weeks before lambing, and then only something without the raised protein levels in feed made for commercial ewes, such as Carr's Champion Tup coarse mix (aka Tup & Lamb) which is good quality.  Their normal diet should be herby grass and browse (tree leaves and bark), plus ad lib meadow hay in the winter.  We give ours a little of the Tup&Lamb when there is deep snow lying. Occasional T&L in a rattly bucket is useful to train them to come and make them easy to handle, so the occasional feed is fine. A salt lick and simple vitamin bucket can be added if you think they need it.
Primitives do not need the high protein feeds designed for commercial high-performance sheep, especially not ewe nuts which are too big for them anyway. Natural forage and browse is sufficient - you are not wanting high production sheep, or if you are then you are keeping the wrong breed of sheep  :D


Your wethers would be better in with the tups.  They don't need extra feed, just the same as the tups get, and they don't need supplementary feed at all. Also Soay wethers can be quite disruptive at lambing time if they are in with the ewes.  Sometimes Soay wethers can take 3 years to reach a size where they are worth sending to the abattoir. Extra feed doesn't add extra muscle to primitives, the feed is simply wasted or causes scouring. Primitives put on weight in the summer and stand still in the winter.


Flushing: Flushing is for commercial sheep.  In Soays twins or singles is more of a genetic thing not dietary.  Assess your ewes before running them with the tup and if they are not fit for carrying lambs then leave them unbred until the following year, by which time they will have rebuilt their normal condition by normal feeding. If you are frequently getting undernourished ewes then review your pasture and the ages of your stock and their general health status. As this was a one-off event it's best for your ewe to recover in her own time and not have the extra burden of lambing every year.
I am a firm believer that sheep know exactly what their bodies need by way of nutrition. In a natural environment they would go to the place they know their desired food grows when they need it.  They are a bit like goats in that way.  We started by rotating our sheep as is recommended for clean grazing, pasture management etc, but we soon found that our sheep preferred to roam around picking and choosing just what to eat, according to what was in season and what they needed.  Now we just leave the gates open between pastures most of the time, only closing them when we have separate flocks as now during pregnancy.  When they have full access to all pastures and hedges, they have a daily routine, so we know just where to find them  :)  (We keep Hebrideans and Soay)


Scouring in Soays: there seem to be two types of Soay - those that scour and those that don't.  I came to the conclusion that it is a familial trait.  We now have none of our original Soay flock and we also have none of the scourers.  It might be that those that scour are more sensitive to rich food.
« Last Edit: January 13, 2022, 01:52:45 pm by Fleecewife »
"Let's not talk about what we can do, but do what we can"

There is NO planet B - what are YOU doing to save our home?

Do something today that your future self will thank you for - plant a tree

 Love your soil - it's the lifeblood of your land.

Richmond

  • Joined Sep 2020
  • Norfolk
Re: Feed management
« Reply #2 on: January 13, 2022, 06:04:24 pm »
Scouring in Soays: there seem to be two types of Soay - those that scour and those that don't.  I came to the conclusion that it is a familial trait.  We now have none of our original Soay flock and we also have none of the scourers.  It might be that those that scour are more sensitive to rich food.
ę


That's interesting FW. I currently have a scouring Soay, the only one in a flock of 7 ewes. She's last year's lamb. Her twin brother in the adjacent field (all boys) is also a little loose (toothpaste consistency) but not actually scouring, but again, the only one doing so. The vet did a FEC today and both were negative for worms and cocci. So am wondering if this is a familial trait. They are not being fed anything other than hay atm.

Fleecewife

  • Joined May 2010
  • South Lanarkshire
    • ScotHebs
Re: Feed management
« Reply #3 on: January 13, 2022, 06:28:57 pm »
Our scoury ones always dried up on hay, then started again as soon as something moister was in their diet.  Has the dam a tendency to scour too?  All you can do is keep hay available even in summer, if there's no other obvious cause, such as toxic plants or rich feed.  I do find that feeding fresh willow branches helps with general health, as there are plenty of trace elements under the outer bark.  I would only say it was familial if there was no other cause to be found.  With my Soays, we knew which families had the tendency so could make a reasoned judgement if fresh scouring occurred.
"Let's not talk about what we can do, but do what we can"

There is NO planet B - what are YOU doing to save our home?

Do something today that your future self will thank you for - plant a tree

 Love your soil - it's the lifeblood of your land.

Richmond

  • Joined Sep 2020
  • Norfolk
Re: Feed management
« Reply #4 on: January 13, 2022, 07:10:04 pm »
I don't know how much of the hay she is eating tbh. She's in a large field and there has been plenty of grass, and she seems to graze in preference to hay unlike some of the others who spend most of the day at the rack! She's bright and bouncy and doesnt appear ill in any way. I am actually going to have a conversation with the vet about her tomorrow. Only spoke to the receptionist about the FEC results today.

Sorry, didn't mean to hijack your thread Mamohau.

Mamohau

  • Joined Jan 2022
Re: Feed management
« Reply #5 on: January 13, 2022, 08:18:22 pm »

Sorry, didn't mean to hijack your thread Mamohau.

No problem, it's all educational for me!

Mamohau

  • Joined Jan 2022
Re: Feed management
« Reply #6 on: January 13, 2022, 09:11:42 pm »
Hi @Mamohau


Whereabouts are you?
Wiltshire :D


(I could not tell from your account whether it was a Boreray or Soay which is underweight, but they are both Primitives so the following still holds (I had assumed it was a Soay))
It's a Boreray ewe who's underweight, and the ram is separated as she certainly wasn't in a condition to be tupped. Not lambing Boreray this year at all.

Soays as you say are primitives so should not need extra feeding until about 6 weeks before lambing, and then only something without the raised protein levels in feed made for commercial ewes, such as Carr's Champion Tup coarse mix (aka Tup & Lamb) which is good quality.  Their normal diet should be herby grass and browse (tree leaves and bark), plus ad lib meadow hay in the winter.  We give ours a little of the Tup&Lamb when there is deep snow lying. Occasional T&L in a rattly bucket is useful to train them to come and make them easy to handle, so the occasional feed is fine. A salt lick and simple vitamin bucket can be added if you think they need it.
they have the salt lick and low copper vitamin bucket if they want it.

Primitives do not need the high protein feeds designed for commercial high-performance sheep, especially not ewe nuts which are too big for them anyway. Natural forage and browse is sufficient - you are not wanting high production sheep, or if you are then you are keeping the wrong breed of sheep  :D
No, you're right, no high production! 


Your wethers would be better in with the tups.  They don't need extra feed, just the same as the tups get, and they don't need supplementary feed at all. Also Soay wethers can be quite disruptive at lambing time if they are in with the ewes.  Sometimes Soay wethers can take 3 years to reach a size where they are worth sending to the abattoir. Extra feed doesn't add extra muscle to primitives, the feed is simply wasted or causes scouring. Primitives put on weight in the summer and stand still in the winter.
I'll be forwarding this to my boss as the Soay are hers!  Hopefully we can move the wethers to the ram field.

Flushing: Flushing is for commercial sheep.  In Soays twins or singles is more of a genetic thing not dietary.  Assess your ewes before running them with the tup and if they are not fit for carrying lambs then leave them unbred until the following year, by which time they will have rebuilt their normal condition by normal feeding. If you are frequently getting undernourished ewes then review your pasture and the ages of your stock and their general health status. As this was a one-off event it's best for your ewe to recover in her own time and not have the extra burden of lambing every year.
Fingers crossed and that she'll be fine by next tupping.

I am a firm believer that sheep know exactly what their bodies need by way of nutrition. In a natural environment they would go to the place they know their desired food grows when they need it.  They are a bit like goats in that way. 
I also like to follow that but was concerned that neither flock is getting enough nutrition through lack of options, although the Soay are stripping the willow bark at the moment!  They love brambles, I just pulled a load off the Boreray! Soay don't seem to get as tangled.

We started by rotating our sheep as is recommended for clean grazing, pasture management etc, but we soon found that our sheep preferred to roam around picking and choosing just what to eat, according to what was in season and what they needed.  Now we just leave the gates open between pastures most of the time, only closing them when we have separate flocks as now during pregnancy.  When they have full access to all pastures and hedges, they have a daily routine, so we know just where to find them  :)  (We keep Hebrideans and Soay).

I'd love to do that but only have three fields and rams are in one, with Soay in another and Boreray ewes in 3rd. 

Scouring in Soays: there seem to be two types of Soay - those that scour and those that don't.  I came to the conclusion that it is a familial trait.  We now have none of our original Soay flock and we also have none of the scourers.  It might be that those that scour are more sensitive to rich food.

That's interesting. The one scouring Soay ewe has been vetted, treated, tested to within an inch of her life, and nothing.  She was very thin but after a mineral drench and a bucket in the field she's improved condition enough for tupping.  If she doesn't take then she'll be freezer food which would be sad as she's one of our only two registered and the other's her half-sister, a model of health!


So in conclusion, I should stop feeding all of this stuff and:

Pregnant Soay - feed Tup & Lamb about 6 weeks before lambing, mid March.
ad lib hay (which they do eat)

Boreray - ewes, lambs, tups - hay ad lib
Boreray underweight ewe - Tup & Lamb only?

However I still need something very basic to feed, as I'm trying to train the lambs to come to hand and be more settled around us, and that I can give to all of them.  I also have one Shetland x Wiltshire Horn lamb who's in with the Boreray as my 'fetch' sheep - she sees me, baas her head off and they all come racing over! She's fat as can be so doesn't need any extra but she fights the others for the food!   


Thank you so much Fleecewife!

twizzel

  • Joined Apr 2012
Re: Feed management
« Reply #7 on: January 13, 2022, 10:12:15 pm »
Lamb finisher nuts would be fine, they should contain ammonium chloride which make them safe for males. They donít need much though, itís more of a token feed to get them tame.

Fleecewife

  • Joined May 2010
  • South Lanarkshire
    • ScotHebs
Re: Feed management
« Reply #8 on: January 13, 2022, 10:43:15 pm »
Ah so it's a Boreray that is skinny, and she's not in lamb - that's good.  If she's not scouring on the beet and creep feed and is thriving, then keep her on that, plus good grass if you have it in winter, good meadow hay, and plenty of fresh water. Try not to chop and change her feed. Sheep love some foliage and bark so willow, apple tree prunings, perhaps a small amount of young ivy leaves, cow parsley as soon as it appears,  and so on will help her general health a lot.  She is unlikely to put on much weight over the winter but will pick up well in spring and summer  :fc: .  If she doesn't pick up then, take a closer look to see if there is a greater cause than feeding 4 lambs.  If she continues to get skinnier over the winter then get the vet to supervise.  Does she have any history of Fluke?  That can leave the gut damaged and the sheep never thrives.


BTW, brambles are carnivorous!  That's how they get their nutrition - wrap themselves around a passing sheep (or human) and don't let go.  Sheep dies, unable to break free, body decomposes, bramble roots get the food they need - tada!  We don't need to go to foreign countries to see carnivorous plants  :roflanim:


It is a shame about the scouring Soay, but truly if she carries a poor trait then you don't really want to be breeding from her anyway. You give them the best care you can, but the idea of registered stock is to keep the national flock healthy and strong. Harsh I know. 


Not knowing your situation it's hard to know what you can use to tempt the lambs and train them, other than a small amount of Tup&Lamb, or some brassica trimmings of you have a garden. Digestive biscuits are an acquired taste for Soays, but they are usually very keen to acquire that taste! Tiny bits only, but once they fall for them, they'll come running at the first sound of a packet rustle.  Most sheep soon learn to unzip a pocket for treats.  An option for next year if you have Willows, is Tree Hay.  This is the year's growth cut in late summer, bunched and hung in a cool place for use in winter.  We also feed all the coppicing branches when other food is in small supply.
« Last Edit: January 13, 2022, 10:45:22 pm by Fleecewife »
"Let's not talk about what we can do, but do what we can"

There is NO planet B - what are YOU doing to save our home?

Do something today that your future self will thank you for - plant a tree

 Love your soil - it's the lifeblood of your land.

Richmond

  • Joined Sep 2020
  • Norfolk
Re: Feed management
« Reply #9 on: January 14, 2022, 09:01:03 am »
Our Soays like carrots, but only if hand held. Won't touch them if they've dropped to the floor, or even fed in a bucket  ::)

Oh and just reading about your fat and greedy WH X Shetland Mamohau - we have 3 WHs who are exactly the same!

Mamohau

  • Joined Jan 2022
Re: Feed management
« Reply #10 on: January 14, 2022, 11:10:49 am »
Ah so it's a Boreray that is skinny, and she's not in lamb - that's good.  If she's not scouring on the beet and creep feed and is thriving, then keep her on that, plus good grass if you have it in winter, good meadow hay, and plenty of fresh water. Try not to chop and change her feed. Sheep love some foliage and bark so willow, apple tree prunings, perhaps a small amount of young ivy leaves, cow parsley as soon as it appears,  and so on will help her general health a lot.  She is unlikely to put on much weight over the winter but will pick up well in spring and summer  :fc: .  If she doesn't pick up then, take a closer look to see if there is a greater cause than feeding 4 lambs.  If she continues to get skinnier over the winter then get the vet to supervise.  Does she have any history of Fluke?  That can leave the gut damaged and the sheep never thrives.

I'll keep her on the creep and beet as she's improving and although it's still a little hollow in front of her hips it's not skin and bone now. Mentally she seems fine, alert, boots the dogs if they get too close, and demanding her food.


BTW, brambles are carnivorous!  That's how they get their nutrition - wrap themselves around a passing sheep (or human) and don't let go.  Sheep dies, unable to break free, body decomposes, bramble roots get the food they need - tada!  We don't need to go to foreign countries to see carnivorous plants  :roflanim:

Flipping stuff, but I have to say that I don't think it's as bad as Burdock! the Soay sneaked out last year and muched on Burdock, they still have some seeds in their fleece!

It is a shame about the scouring Soay, but truly if she carries a poor trait then you don't really want to be breeding from her anyway. You give them the best care you can, but the idea of registered stock is to keep the national flock healthy and strong. Harsh I know. 
Point taken.  If she lambs hopefully it'll be a ram lamb and it'll go for meat!  If she doesn't, she'll be freezer.

Not knowing your situation it's hard to know what you can use to tempt the lambs and train them, other than a small amount of Tup&Lamb, or some brassica trimmings of you have a garden Plenty of that with our Forest garden!. Digestive biscuits are an acquired taste for Soays, but they are usually very keen to acquire that taste! Tiny bits only, but once they fall for them, they'll come running at the first sound of a packet rustle.  Most sheep soon learn to unzip a pocket for treats.  An option for next year if you have Willows, is Tree Hay.  This is the year's growth cut in late summer, bunched and hung in a cool place for use in winter.  We also feed all the coppicing branches when other food is in small supply.
The Soay have been stripping the Willow.  We have a load in a barn, I'll give it to them, might get them off the live plants a bit!  There's plenty so it isn't a problem.  I'll get it all cut some this year!

Thank you so much for your help. I'm a lot clearer now and I'll just finish off what we have and then stop the feeding, almost.   I feel like one of those naughty people who feed their dogs roast dinner and then wonder why they're so fat and unhealthy!   :o

 :sheep: :sheep: :sheep: :sheep: :sunshine:
Off to not feed them now (except Annalise the Skinny!).

SallyintNorth

  • Joined Feb 2011
  • Cornwall
  • Rarely short of an opinion but I mean well
    • Trelay Cohousing Community
Re: Feed management
« Reply #11 on: January 14, 2022, 01:42:31 pm »
If you have burdock and want to use the fleeces, the trick is to let the sheep into that pasture early on in the year (like as soon as the snowdrops have finished) when or before the plants are starting to sprout foliage, long before they ever get to flowering.  The sheep love young burdock and will keep them munched right down, so they never get to flower and make those dreadful burrs that totally ruin your fleeces! 

Burdocks are biennials, so I guess if you do this two years running, in theory you would eradicate them.  But new ones will probably keep arriving on birds, dogs, foxes, deer, and so on.

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

 

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