Sheep feed is important for sheep farming. It is necessary to know the state of the production cycle in which any particular group of sheep is found at all times, in order to be able to separate and handle them correctly. Regardless of the production system that the producer (weaning early or once a year), the key to maximizing yields is to feed for production, to know what stage of production the animals are being fed and to minimize costs Power supply by avoiding unnecessary extra power.
Management and nutrition should change at each of these stages if we want to obtain good results from weaned and commercialized lambs.
The nutritional requirements are lower during maintenance and initiation of gestation; And higher at the end of gestation and lactation, especially for mules (breeding twins or triplets).
The daily requirement of nutrients in sheep:
The concentration of nutrients in sheep diets:
The starter feed can be applied from 10 days of age from 0.5 to 2.0 pounds/lamb per day.
22-55 Mg can be added. Of oxytetracycline chlortetracycline/kg of feed. Also a coccidiostat lasalocid (Avatec) of 22-33 Mg./kg of food.
Urinary calculus can be prevented by adding ammonium chloride to 0.5% of the diet or by applying 7-14 grams / animal / 7 days. Also increasing salt to 4.0% of diet increases water consumption decreases urinary calculus
Maintenance (dry period):
Since sheep only need to maintain their weight, apply concentrate (0.5 to 1.0 pounds) if forage is poor and if they lost much weight during lactation.
Flushing and reproduction:
Flushing is the practice of increasing food intake and improving the body conditions of sheep before and after mating or insemination. The purpose is to increase the value of ovulation, fertility rate, and birth rate. Two weeks and four weeks after mating provide 0.5 to 1.5 pounds of concentrate / sheep / day and 5 to 9 pounds of forage.
Beginning of gestation (15 weeks before delivery):
At this stage fetal growth is low and the nutrient requirement is similar to the maintenance stage.
End of gestation (4 weeks before delivery):
It is the period of greater demand of nutrients for the fetal growth and the development of the potential of milk production. More than 80% of fetal development occurs in the last 6 weeks of gestation. Inadequate feeding during this period (especially energy) will negatively affect milk production in lactation, lambs’ birth weight and vigor (survival). Must be fed from 1.50 to 2.00 pounds of concentrate / sheep / day. And 5 to 7 pounds of fodder.
Sheep reach their peak milk production approximately 3 to 4 weeks after calving and produce 75% of their total milk production in the first 8 weeks of lactation.
The growth of lamb depends on the production of milk and the production of milk depends in turn directly on the nutrient intake similar to the dairy cow. We should apply 2.0 to 3.0 pounds of concentrate / sheep / day and 7 to 9 pounds of fodder.
Growers who practice an early weaning program should keep their sheep in optimum body condition for success in their calving program. Animals should not lose body conditions during breastfeeding, to achieve a good performance and to produce a good number of lambs, with adequate weight at weaning.
Assessment of body conditions:
Assessment of body conditions is essential in a nutrition program. The farmer must record the body condition score of his sheep to determine if they respond to the feeding schedule that is applied. If this evaluation is not carried out rigorously, forage analysis and concentrate formulation is of little use. The herd should respond to the feed supplied. If not, a nutrition program suitable for the herd can never be obtained.
Body conditions ranges:
- spine prominent and sharp, without fat cover. Spent muscle, transverse protrusion, outlet. Sheep very thin, in poor condition and weak. The skeleton without fat cover, prominent and sunken eye bone. Hunchbacked and isolated from the herd.
2. spine prominent and sharp, without fat cover. Spent muscle, transverse protrusion, outlet. Sheep thin, in poor condition but agile. The skeleton without fat cover. It remains in the herd.
3. Prominent but soft spine. Small fat cover, full muscle, rounded transverse protrusion. Sheep thin, but strong, healthy without muscle. No fat covering over the spine, rump or ribs, but the skeleton does not show.
4. spine rounded, but soft. Muscle full, round, but soft transverse protrusion. Small deposits of fat on the ribs, shoulders, spine and base of the tail. You can see the hip bone.
5. spine evident only as a line. Heavy, but the firm fat cover, non-palpable protrusion, rounded appearance. You can not see the hip bone. Firm deposits of fat in the chest and base of the tail.
6. The spine and the transverse protrusion can not be seen. Very fat sheep with excess fat on the shoulders, spine, rump and ribs. Excessive fat deposit on a chest, flank, and base of tail, without firmness. Sheep seem annoyed and do not want to move.
Provide a minimum of 45 cm of feed/sheep space. This ensures that all sheep have equal opportunity to consume their daily ration. If this space is not provided the smallest and most productive sheep will lose body condition and be less productive.
In our tropical conditions water is the most important nutrient. The herd must have a source of fresh, clean, permanent water. A water surface of 0.10 m2 per 40 sheep is recommended.
Lambs management program:
A producer can not effectively supply the herd with the appropriate feed if the sheep are not at the same stage of the production cycle. To ensure that all sheep are in the same stage of production the control of the numbers is very important. A fairly acceptable economic and productive yield can be obtained by programming three to four fixed seasons of mounts or coverings per year.
Each mating period lasts 34 days, ie two full run cycles.
Advantages of early weaning:
When the lamb is supplemented with concentrate, it gains from 0.5 to 0.75 pounds more than when it is only fed with breast milk.
The lambs are ready for sale one to two months before.
The lambs do not need grazing are confined in a feed lot, allowing to increase sheep density and better control of parasites.