Smallholders Insurance from Greenlands

Author Topic: Winter Feeding  (Read 1102 times)


  • Joined Nov 2020
Winter Feeding
« on: November 29, 2020, 10:10:14 am »
Hi all,

We have 7 Romney lambs which we put in a smallish pen to wean them, and have been keeping them there to fatten up a bit as the 4 boys will be going to slaughter in January. However I'm a bit uncertain as to how much we should be feeding them to achieve this. Currently I would give them a quarter of a small square bale over a day, morning and evening plus a mix of cake and finishing nuts maybe about 10 lbs a day (I fill up half a washing up bowl each time).

Does this sound like too little? they seem to be very eager for their food and eat all the hay fairly sharpish. Unfortunately we don't really have the pasture to sustain all of them hence why the boys are going, though we've 3 ewes which are out on a larger area and are grazing ok



  • Joined Feb 2016
  • Turriff
Re: Winter Feeding
« Reply #1 on: November 30, 2020, 12:53:20 pm »
when feeding lambs for finishing id always give them ad-lib hay.  as for concentrate, pretty much the more they'll eat the bigger and fatter they'll get.  more feed for less time can often be the cheaper more efficient option.


  • Global Moderator
  • Joined Sep 2012
  • Llandeilo Carmarthenshire
    • Nantygroes
    • Facebook
Re: Winter Feeding
« Reply #2 on: November 30, 2020, 01:44:36 pm »
what weight are they now ..... do they need 'feeding up'  there is no point paying for concentrates to put on fat which will be cut off again when slaughtered

Adlib hay,

Don't wrestle with pigs, they will love it and you will just get all muddy.

Let go of who you are and become who you are meant to be.
Nantygroes  facebook page


  • Joined Jan 2011
  • Dumfries & Galloway
Re: Winter Feeding
« Reply #3 on: November 30, 2020, 02:17:41 pm »
You say 3 ewes, are they pregnant ? running with a ram ?  why can the 3 ewe lambs not run with them as they don't require lots of expensive pellets ?   Are the males entire ? if so the ewe lambs may be pregnant !! . You say your feeding cake and finishing nuts , you need to double check as the finishing nuts may be suitable for males but the cake NOT , yes hay ad-lib  plus the finishing pellets slowly building up to ad-lib


  • Joined Oct 2010
Re: Winter Feeding
« Reply #4 on: November 30, 2020, 04:30:46 pm »
As a rough rule of thumb (bearing in mind variations with size of sheep and weight of bales) I've found that 16 medium sized ewes will eat a small bale of hay /day. So quarter of a bale is only sufficient for @ 4 sheep. A ruminant needs fibre (ie hay in this case) in front of it 24/7- hence everyone's advice to  feed hay ad lib. Once you increase the hay, you will more than likely find that they need less concentrates.
Rules are made:
  for the guidance of wise men
  and the obedience of fools.


  • Joined Apr 2012
Re: Winter Feeding
« Reply #5 on: November 30, 2020, 06:23:28 pm »
Sounds like they need more hay, I have 2 adult rams in who eat about half a bale a day between them. Their hay should be ad lib with finishing pellets fed twice a day. What weight are they now? They will finish quicker and easier inside if you can house them as they wonít use energy to keep warm. If the ewes arenít with a ram now Iíd put the ewe lambs out with them, and keep the 4 boys in the smaller paddock to finish.


  • Joined Nov 2020
Re: Winter Feeding
« Reply #6 on: November 30, 2020, 06:55:58 pm »
Hi all,

The ewe lambs are now with the older ewes which aren't with a ram, the boys are approx 34 - 36kg and are hogs so no risk of pregnancy.

we've 30 small square bales which im hoping will last till march, I'll up the hay to the penned boys. We've struggled with hay this year due to drought nearby so may have to source more. As for not feeding the boys cake I've not heard of this and was feeding them a mix of cake + nuts, will only feed them the nuts from now on.


  • Joined Apr 2012
Re: Winter Feeding
« Reply #7 on: November 30, 2020, 07:17:12 pm »
The finisher nuts should have ammonium chloride in which is the vital ingredient to prevent urinary calculi.

As lambs get older the kill out percentage gets worse, so a lamb killed in the summer May kill out at 50% but in winter only 45%. So they need to be slightly heavier to finish properly during winter. You might find it easier to sell them as stores now whilst the prices are strong at market, than buy cake to finish them (as an indicator 3 lambs about the same weight took just over 1 25kg bag a week fed ad lib to gain reasonable finish over a 5 week period and that was on decent grass back in September).


  • Joined Feb 2011
  • Cornwall
  • Rarely short of an opinion but I mean well
    • Trelay Cohousing Community
Re: Winter Feeding
« Reply #8 on: November 30, 2020, 10:05:43 pm »

I do agree that 1/4 small bale a day for 7 housed Romney lads is a rather scant ration.  I too would expect them to eat at least 1/3 bale if not 1/2. 

If you want to manage the hay intake to reduce wastage, then do not give the hay and cake together when they are hungry, in case they stuff themselves and get bloated.   My wise old Cumbrian hill farmer used to feed a good amount of hay first thing, then cake a few hours later or early afternoon, with a bit more hay before dark so they didn't go to bed empty.  (Ad lib hay is a lot easier, and they don't gorge because they know it's there all the time ;)  But they do waste more, no question about it.)

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


  • Joined Jan 2011
  • Dumfries & Galloway
Re: Winter Feeding
« Reply #9 on: December 01, 2020, 10:06:34 am »
If hay is going to be a future problem then do as Sally says and give several times a day until they are not cleaning it all up then cut back a little the next day , you will soon learn the right amount . Ad-lib hay can be waste full as they sort out the leaf's to eat first and will leave the stalks if they can, they will waste less old meadow hay then new seed hay or  Timothy   , plus depending on the type of hay rack a lot can end up at their feet . A trough under the hay can help save hay from being trampled ( the traditional metal hay /feed rack on wheels is good ) .   Your bags of feed all have a label on them which tells the ingredients and if suitable for males  or just phone the feed manufacturer for clarification

Bramham Wiltshire Horns

  • Joined Oct 2014
  • leeds
  • Bramham flock Wiltshire Horns
Re: Winter Feeding
« Reply #10 on: December 10, 2020, 01:35:59 pm »

in year one i went over board and spent a fortune on feed making sure they had enough etc.

so when i went in to year 2 i decided to cut right back on feed and only gave them a tickle when the ground was frozen, i got back from holiday 4 weeks before lambing and started feeding the pregnant ewes when i got back

i ended up spending the same amount as year 1 but with 3 times the amount of sheep

they are given a lick bucket around this time of year and have access to Hay but i find while we still have grass they  dont touch it.

ours are native sheep Wiltshire Horns and do well off rough pasture through the winter

i guess you should just keep an eye on their condition and score them often and feed the ones that need a bit and not the ones that dont

good luck
« Last Edit: December 10, 2020, 04:02:55 pm by Bramham Wiltshire Horns »
follow on FB@BramhamWiltshireHorns


  • Joined May 2010
  • South Lanarkshire
    • ScotHebs
Re: Winter Feeding
« Reply #11 on: December 10, 2020, 02:04:50 pm »

I know I keep Primitive sheep which don't respond as well as more commercial breeds to bagged feed/nuts/cake/whatever, so are raised on grass, either fresh or as hay, with very little supplementary feeding, and then only when the snow is lying.  They take up to 16 months to reach a size ready for slaughter - this is not a problem for us as we have plenty of grazing.
What disturbs me is the thought of raising a sheep, which is a ruminant, on large quantities of dried feed.  Primitives which are grass reared are known to have high levels of CLA (Conjugated Linoleic Acid) which is good for humans to have in their diet (good fat), and this is thought to be a result of grass rearing.  Similarly, cattle fed on concentrates with no fresh grass are more likely to carry pathogenic E.coli - causing disease in humans.
We raise most of our male sheep for meat for our own consumption so there's no way I would even want to stuff them with man-made feed.  I want to be eating the healthiest meat I can, and small quantities are better for health.
Just saying  ;D
Do something today that your future self will thank you for - plant a tree

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


Winter Feeding

Started by Shnoowie (10.44)

Replies: 3
Views: 1874
Last post November 25, 2010, 12:14:56 pm
by Shnoowie
Winter feeding

Started by smee2012 (10.44)

Replies: 23
Views: 8566
Last post December 02, 2012, 09:06:40 am
by Pasture Farm
Winter feeding

Started by kelly58 (10.44)

Replies: 13
Views: 4537
Last post November 01, 2013, 09:36:40 am
by Bramblecot
Feeding over the winter

Started by Ermingtrude (10.44)

Replies: 15
Views: 4220
Last post November 09, 2017, 12:42:17 am
by Fleecewife
feeding sheep over winter

Started by mebnandtrn (10.32)

Replies: 5
Views: 2811
Last post November 06, 2014, 01:39:13 pm
by Hellybee

Forum sponsors

FibreHut Energy Helpline Thomson & Morgan Time for Paws Scottish Smallholder & Grower Festival Ark Farm Livestock Movement Service

© The Accidental Smallholder Ltd 2003-2021. All rights reserved.

Design by Furness Internet

Site developed by Champion IS