Grass is the only feed ewes need, unless they have triplets – Teagasc

Ewes rearing single and twin lambs do not need meal when there is an adequate supply of grass, according to Teagasc’s Tim Keady.

The Principal Research Officer said farmers should feed concentrates to their ewes prior to lambing and the level is depending on forage quality and litter size.

He said that most single and twin-suckling ewes will meet their nutrition requirements from grass alone.

Ewes should be turned out to paddocks with grass that is 6-7cm high, he said and they should be removed at a post-grazing sward height of 3.5cm.

However, Keady said there is no issue with grazing a little below 3.5cm for a short period of time to allow time for grass covers to build on farm.

If this practice is carried out for a long period of time ewes may require some level of meal feeding, but ewes rearing single lambs would not require any concentrate feeding.

Feeding triplet ewes

Ewes with triplet lambs should be looked after as they are rearing an extra lamb,” he said.

These ewes should have a good grass supply and they will also require an addition 0.5kg of meal per day to ensure that they have adequate milk for the lambs.

The Teagasc researcher also recommended offering the lambs concentrates at a rate of 300g/day, but farmers must ensure that they provide the lambs with an adequate feed space.

The ewes and lambs will eat 85kg of extra feed at a cost of €25-27/ewe. The triplet lambs weaned will weigh the same as twin lambs reared on grass without any meal feeding.

Keady also added that farmers should treat ewe lambs rearing twins the same as triplet ewe. “These ewe lambs have a high energy requirement, but ewe lambs rearing one lamb will be fine on grass alone.”