Supplementary Feeding Strategies this Summer

As we head into the dry pasture phase, being one step ahead with supplementary feeding is critical for your livestock performance. It is especially important to prevent a decrease in condition score in ewes being joined or pregnant and weaners. A nutritional decline in a ewe could impact either her ability to get in lamb or the potential performance of the foetus if she does get in lamb. Weaners need to keep actively growing to stay healthy and reach their target weight to be able to be turned off for slaughter or joined as an older lamb. 

Supplementary feeding will also assist in reducing grazing pressure on pastures. Leaving a good amount of ground cover will ensure pasture growth rates are optimised in winter. 

Figure 1. A guide to digestibility decline as temperate pastures mature. Source: MLA - NSW PROGRAZE Manual, NSW Agriculture

 

Whether you are grazing dry pasture or crop stubbles the aim is to fill the gap between what the feed on offer is lacking and what the sheep’s energy and protein requirements are. Pastures in the south have remained green for an extended period this season but we are now starting to see a decline in digestibility and energy content. 

Figure 2. Energy (ME) and protein requirements of sheep

It is important to introduce supplementary feed early to ensure young stock are having their energy and protein requirements met as the pastures dry off. Imprint feeding while lambs are still on the ewes is important to get lambs onto feed trails or onto feeders and imprinting the lambs into their weaning paddocks can also aid in a smooth transition.

With protein being the most limiting factor, we have a range of protein supplements to help get the most out of your dry feed in a cost effective way. At Western AG we have a nutrition specialist and a team of animal health specialists who are available to meet with you on farm or instore to discuss the best supplementation or feedlot program for your livestock. 

Article produced by - Kelly Barnes, Western AG Hamilton

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