The Accidental Smallholder Forum

Livestock => Sheep => Topic started by: TomWes on January 07, 2019, 10:30:23 pm

Title: Pregnant ewe feeding
Post by: TomWes on January 07, 2019, 10:30:23 pm
Hi Everyone,
I have just bought 10 mule ewes all are 2 years old and lambed last year.
They were put in with a Charollais ram in October each were scanned with twins just before Christmas.
All are in good condition and have been fed well, previously they have been grazing on fodderbeet tops and grass.
I have put them in a new paddock about an 1.5 acres which has a lot of grass in it, the sward height is about 10cm. I have another 3.5 acres of paddocks there with similar grass height I can put them in as well.

If I open up all the paddocks to them do I need to feed a lot of concentrates?
Or should I keep them in the smaller paddock and feed them more concentrates?
Obviously I would prefer to feed less concentrates due to cost if I can but I know that they probably won’t get all the things they need just from the grass?
Lick blocks/buckets suitable for pregnant ewes will be provided.

Any other advice will be much appreciated.

Thanks in advance
Title: Re: Pregnant ewe feeding
Post by: SallyintNorth on January 09, 2019, 10:25:45 am
Whereabouts are you?  There may be little nutrition left in the grass by this time of year, they may need hay anyway.

When I had Mules on a Northumberland moorland farm, we were advised to feed concentrate for the final two months of pregnancy because the ewes wouldn’t be able to eat and digest enough hay for their nutritional needs as the lambs grew, both making demands on the mother’s body and taking up a lot of space, so leaving less room for forage and its digestion in the rumen.

Charollais lambs won’t be quite as big at birth as the Texels and Beltex we had.

Ewes need extra sugar in the last six weeks of pregnancy, so giving them molasses is a good idea - usually a molasses lick, which you’re planning to give them anyway.

We used to feed the Mules 1lb per head per day of concentrate from 8 weeks out to 4 weeks out, then double it by feeding it twice a day for the last four weeks.  Conditions were fairly extreme up there, though ;)
Title: Re: Pregnant ewe feeding
Post by: twizzel on January 09, 2019, 12:03:02 pm
I'd keep your grass for after lambing so they have a good bite to turn out onto and get milk production going. Nothing beats grass for milk! If they are in good condition like mine, that will help carry them through with less concentrates. I feed twins 0.5kg for the last 3 weeks of pregnancy and a Lifeline bucket for the last 4-5 weeks. Keep them out until 2 weeks before the first is due. The only exception to that is anything worryingly over fat is coming in when I heptavac at 4 weeks before onto hay. My ewes are a bit too good condition though, so want them to lose a bit of condition before starting to feed. Make sure they've got ad lib hay.

Title: Re: Pregnant ewe feeding
Post by: crobertson on January 13, 2019, 07:13:46 pm
Not sure if it helps but we have Derbyshire Gritstones which are quite a hardy breed but I would probably let them have a quick graze of your 3.5 acres, just enough to get it down a bit but not graze it too short and then keep them on the 1.5 acres and save the rest for post-lambing (once they are indoors and have lambed ours get their hooves checked and a worm dose about 24-48 hours before they are due to go out).

At this time of year they should have hay available and a basic salt block, I imagine the amount of hay consumed will be small at first but once they've got on top of the 1.5 acres they will need more. All of ours have a cystalyx extra high energy in the last 8 weeks of pregancy, for twins I would introduce a small amount of concentrates (about 1/2 a pound) 6-8 weeks pre-lambing and then up this to 1lb a day 3-4 weeks pre-lambing and we continue at 1lb a day for the first 4 weeks post lambing as this is peak lactation and the grass around here can still be poor in April. This suits ours but its trial and error finding what suits you and I know other breeds and mules may need more or some need less, closer to lambing condition score weekly if you can, this will tell you if you're feeding enough or if they need more :)
Title: Re: Pregnant ewe feeding
Post by: landroverroy on January 13, 2019, 10:05:54 pm
I find sheep won't eat hay when they've got grass, so grass (while it lasts) and feed blocks will be adequate. I agree that nothing produces milk like grass. But it has to be new grass, not last autumns that you've kept! So I'd graze down what you've got, but leave at least an inch so there's enough growth left to produce the food for your spring growth, then move onto hay. I find feed blocks and hay are sufficient and don't feed concentrates, but it's up to you.
Title: Re: Pregnant ewe feeding
Post by: thesuffolksmallholding on January 16, 2019, 05:38:54 pm
I personally make sure you have a field left aside for after lambing. With regards to feed I would feed them a good ewe roll from about 4 weeks before lambing, depending on their condition start at many 150g-200g and step it up by 150-200g each week. I just find the feed blocks expensive compared to buying bagged.
Thats what we do here, the mules always have good grass under them and we give them hay ad lib from mid-november to spring, feed them well and always seem to get good lambs mid-feb time.
Title: Re: Pregnant ewe feeding
Post by: mary94 on January 19, 2019, 09:28:25 pm
You should start giving extra feed if they are more than 2 month on in pregnancy as the grass doesn’t have enough nutrients in at this time of year to support them fully. I give mine hay and fodder beets every other day whilst keeping them on grass, and give a bucket of ewe nuts about every 4 days, and then will up the feeding as they progress in pregnancy, hope this helps!