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Author Topic: Finishing lambs (or finishing them off)  (Read 3770 times)

DartmoorLiz

  • Joined Jan 2012
  • Devon
Finishing lambs (or finishing them off)
« on: January 20, 2014, 10:14:03 pm »
Hi,  I'm trying a small (actually whole flock) experiment.  I thought I'd try finishing lambs indoors so I have 9 lambs indoors, weighing (when they came in a week ago between 20 and 40kg.  I weighed them today after feeding them concentrate and hay for a week and while some have gained most have lost (the worst 4kg).  They were all wormed on coming in and a couple of lame ones were treated. 

My question is, is this normal?  Can I expect them all to start gaining now that they have acclimatised to being in and their fleeces have dried?  I've never done this before and it doesn't look like my lambs have read the Eblex leaflet.  Is there anything that I have missed? 

Thanks for your help.
Never ever give up.

shygirl

  • Joined May 2013
Re: Finishing lambs (or finishing them off)
« Reply #1 on: January 20, 2014, 10:47:38 pm »
iv no idea but its interesting. i personally have found my sheep didnt eat too much when inside but obviously many people do keep sheep inside.
perhaps that 4 kilos was wet fleece from all the rain :roflanim: :roflanim:

SallyintNorth

  • Joined Feb 2011
  • Cornwall
  • Rarely short of an opinion but I mean well
    • Trelay Cohousing Community
Re: Finishing lambs (or finishing them off)
« Reply #2 on: January 21, 2014, 03:05:32 am »
There will probably have been quite a bit of water in those fleeces, yes!  And quite a lot of wet rumen content, coming in off grass - we always reckon they lose 2kg coming inside off grass, just for those two reasons.

Factors which will could affect how well they do indoors include
  • sufficient trough space - watch them feed, does everyone actually get some?
  • sufficient access to the hay ditto
  • sufficient fresh water - they will need to drink a lot of water in order to metabolise the hay and concentrate

Then, you say you've wormed them - but what about fluke?

How much cake are you feeding?  How many times a day?  And hay ditto? 

With that range of sizes it is very likely that the larger lambs are getting most of the fodder, and the lesser ones are getting barely enough.

It's fine to monitor their weight, of course, but it's essential to also condition score them - it's a much more reliable gauge to how the regime is suiting them.  However, don't expect to feel a great deal of difference in less than about 3 or 4 weeks.

Have they had any minerals? 

Are they active and bright-eyed or a bit lethargic?
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

DartmoorLiz

  • Joined Jan 2012
  • Devon
Re: Finishing lambs (or finishing them off)
« Reply #3 on: January 21, 2014, 08:42:00 pm »
Thanks.  I had not thought of wet rumen contents.  There's not much argey bargey except for one of the smallest who's a pretty chippy feisty one, punching well above her weight (she's gaining fine, its one of the larger ones who lost the most).  I haven't fluked them so that's something to do.  I'll add a hay net as the rack is smaller than I'd like even if its always refilled before its empty so everyone should get a shout.  I was careful at first not to give too much concentrate (1/2 kg each) per day but I'll build up to ad lib (1 - 1.5kg) possibly this week but certainly by next (depending on mucky bums - none so far).  They've got a sheep rocky and lots of water so minerals should be fine.  They are all bright and perky except one who was bottle fed and always looks a bit martered.

A friend suggested I give them a radio to listen to.  Does anyone do that?
Never ever give up.

Auld Cairnallochy

  • Joined Oct 2012
  • Aberdeenshire
Re: Finishing lambs (or finishing them off)
« Reply #4 on: January 21, 2014, 09:16:08 pm »
Seems fine to me just keep an eye on the concentrate and make sure they have plenty of cool air. Radio sounds good too just don't let them hear Frank Sinatra sing "There will never be another you"    :-J

Old Shep

  • Joined Feb 2011
  • North Yorkshire
Re: Finishing lambs (or finishing them off)
« Reply #5 on: January 21, 2014, 09:22:26 pm »
just don't let them hear Frank Sinatra sing "There will never be another you"    :-J


 :roflanim:
Helen - (used to be just Shep).  Gordon Setters, Border Collies and chief lambing assistant to BigBennyShep.

DartmoorLiz

  • Joined Jan 2012
  • Devon
Re: Finishing lambs (or finishing them off)
« Reply #6 on: January 21, 2014, 09:30:18 pm »
 :roflanim:
Never ever give up.

SallyintNorth

  • Joined Feb 2011
  • Cornwall
  • Rarely short of an opinion but I mean well
    • Trelay Cohousing Community
Re: Finishing lambs (or finishing them off)
« Reply #7 on: January 22, 2014, 05:43:30 pm »
There's not much argey bargey

is no indicator that someone isn't getting their share.  Not all sheep will push and fight - in fact, most won't.  You have to watch closely for some time to discover whether every lamb is really feeding.  Just being at the trough / feeder isn't an indication either, as sheep naturally loiter about looking like all the other sheep it's with look, whether or not they are actually doing that activity.  (It's so that they don't stand out to a predator.)

Feeding space is a bit of a hobbyhorse of mine; you just need one bossyboots in a flock (or herd - cattle are the same) and the weaker individuals get nothing - the bossy one will stop others feeding whether or not it's full itself ::).  And again, you have to watch closely for some time, as the bossying signals can be quite subtle.  (Or not ::))

So if there's any doubt at all that everyone's getting what they want, put it out in several areas well apart.  And it helps to have some just loose on the floor, not in a heck or net or rack, as it's easier to grab a big mouthful and take it away to munch in peace and quiet.  If I have to stand my ground at the heck / net, I just may not bother... ;)

You can bed them on good quality untreated straw, topping up daily, too - anyone not getting hay will probably quietly eat clean straw, and it's a good feedstuff.  ;)

Are these lambs to sell in the ring, to sell deadweight, or to slaughter for your own / friends' consumption?  Whichever, you'll need to guard against the bossiest getting fat, which indoors with ad lib hay and 3lb/head/day they certainly would over a period of time.  If they're only 3-4 weeks off finished, then that's fine. 

I should also mention, in case you hadn't heard about it, that male lambs should not be fed any feed which doesn't explicitly state that it's suitable for tups. ;)

Hope that helps!  :)
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

DartmoorLiz

  • Joined Jan 2012
  • Devon
Re: Finishing lambs (or finishing them off)
« Reply #8 on: January 22, 2014, 10:12:33 pm »
Thanks Sally, so much to take in, I took a peaceful hour just watching them today.  It's a bit like watching a slow game of chess.  The smaller ones seem to get to the food enough over time and had a good scoff at the hay and they get fresh straw every day so no worries there.  Not all the concentrate's gone after the initial scrum and wondered if its because they stand in the trough so put it up, realised it was so high that the smaller one's necks are too short to get in so put it lower again and that seems OK.  I'm afraid martyer is hopeless, there's nothing wrong as such she's just not right, she was given to me a week old and I doubt she got enough colostrum.  I had hoped to keep her as a ewe but she can barely keep herself going let alone a lamb so its probably not fair to try.  She knows how to eat better than most and gets plenty of hay but spends lots more time curled up than the others.  At least she's out of the rain.
Never ever give up.

 

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