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Thread: feeding sheep in late pregnancy

  1. #1
    New Member
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Location
    Kelowna
    Posts
    4

    feeding sheep in late pregnancy

    I'm new here, I have a small flock of ewes in Kelowna.

    Seems to be a lot of interest in sheep on this site, so thought I'd ask how other sheep farmers approach feeding in late gestation. At least half of my ewes often have triplets, and the rest twin except for ewe lambs, and I have lost ewes in early lactation because of a nutritional crash, but if I feed to much grain in late gestation the lambs get big and last year I had to help almost half the ewes deliver monster lambs.

    This year I'm trying for something in the middle, they're getting 4-5 lbs of good grass/alfalfa hay per head per day and usually I start a small amount of grain in January but this year thought I'd up the alfalfa content of the hay and hold off the grain until February. I usually grain starting at 1/3 lb per head and work up to 1 lb per head near lambing and after lambing. It's around minus 10 on average here this winter and I have almost a foot of snow.

    Lambs are due in early March.

    I'm interested to hear other sheep farmer's theories on feeding in winter... I only have 18 ewes so splitting the flock between fat and thin ewes isn't practical for my setup although I have older thinner ewes and young fat piggy ones...

    Janice

  2. #2
    Dennis Lapierre
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Location
    Falkland, BC
    Posts
    275
    Blog Entries
    13

    This year I'm dealing with winter lambs. My own fault for not separating out the ram early enough last summer.
    But, it has taught me a few other useful lessons.
    Because I wasn't expecting lambs so soon, my feeding practice did not include grain in the third trimester. Granted, the sheep were able to graze well into December, but nonetheless, what they got was only what they could rustle and alfalfa/grass mix hay.
    So far, I've had a normal lambing. Mostly twins. None oversized. I've had problems with oversized lambs in the past.
    I'm feeding the lactating ewes a fair amount of whole barley now, with all they can eat hay.
    One difference I've noticed is that the lambs are well into eating hay, too, at 3-4 weeks of age.
    I have 10 young ewes yet to lamb. They are still doing fine just on hay.
    From this, I'm beginning to wonder about the relative value of putting grain into the ewes before lambing, especially if they are in fit condition.

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