Are you tight for feed space in your shed? Check out how this farm overcame this problem

On a recent visit to a pre-lambing event in Ballycarney, Co. Wexford, the topic of feeding ewes in the last few weeks of pregnancy was covered in great detail.

The feed space requirements of ewes at lambing and the importance of adequate floor space in both group and individual pens was discussed.

The workshop was held on the farm of Aidan and Peter Kehoe, who run a flock of 220 ewes.

Their individual pens consisted of wooden pallets. However, the interesting aspect of the pens was the way they fed their ewes.

Just above the wooden pallets – at the back of the pen – is sheep wire that is tied up and allowed to hang over the pen.

The duo throws the silage on top of the wire. This, in turn, allows the ewes access to fodder.

Sheep wire used as a feeding rack for ewes that have lambed

The only problem with this method of feeding the ewes is wastage. More than likely, the ewes will pull the silage down and scatter it over the pen.

The only way to counteract the possibility of the ewes wasting the silage is to pack it well, as silage is much heavier than hay; it would make it harder for the ewe to pull it down and scatter it around the pen.

However, if you are tight for feed space during the lambing period and want to reduce your costs; this might be the solution to your problems.

Feeding Space

It is important to provide ewes with adequate feed space throughout the housing period. An option for farmers if their sheds are at full capacity is to have a walk-through feeding passageway at either side of the pen. This allows farmers to feed their ewes from three sides of the pen.

According to Teagasc, the recommended feed space when offering concentrates to a ewe weighing between 70kg and 90kg is between 500mm and 600mm.

Smaller ewes weighing 50kg require a feed space of 400mm when being fed concentrates.

Moreover, ewes should have access to fresh clean water at all times.

Data source: Teagasc

Floor Space

It is important to provide ewes with plenty of space in order to prevent overcrowding, which can result in reduced performance.

If floor space is tight it is important to have good airflow circulating throughout the shed to prevent ewes from becoming too warm and stressed.

Furthermore, when ewes are ready to be scanned in early December, they should be grouped in accordance with how many lambs they are carrying. Single-bearing ewes; twin-bearing ewes; and triplet-bearing ewes should be penned separately.

This table (below) outlines the minimum floor space ewes of different weight categories require.

Data source: Teagasc