Reducing meal costs by making use of scanning results

For mid-season lambing flocks, concentrate supplementation will have begun on many farms, as the lambing season edges closer.

Many flocks will have scanned their ewes last month in preparation for the upcoming lambing period and the results from the scan will, or at least should, have been put into use when it comes to grouping ewes and drawing up a feeding plan.

Concentrates are a significant input cost on any farming enterprise, so in order to cut costs on sheep farms, it’s important to make use of your scanning results by grouping ewes as to the number of lambs they are carrying and also when their due date is in order to make the best use of the concentrates you are feeding them.

Meal can be wasted on farms by feeding ewes at the same time as ewes which are due to lamb a few weeks later.

Also Read: What should I be looking out for when buying concentrates for in-lamb ewes?

We all know the importance of introducing concentrates to ewes in late pregnancy, but it is also important to be smart about how we go about feeding ewes and not wasting meal on ewes that don’t need it just yet.

During the week, John Cannon, a Teagasc advisor, highlighted how much meal ewes will consume in late pregnancy and the importance of grouping ewes to the number of lambs being carried and expected lambing date.

He said: “Some of the flock will be lambing in mid-March, say, while the rest won’t be lambing down until well into April time, so if you start feeding those late lambers at the same time as the earlier lambing ewes, they will have a lot more feed consumed by the time they lamb.

“Over the last six-to-eight weeks of pregnancy, twin-bearing ewes on 65% dry matter digestibility (DMD) silage, you’re talking about feeding 35kg of meal.

For ewes carrying singles, you could go with about 30% less, so in around 24kg of meal, while with triplet-bearing ewes, you’re talking about feeding 30% more than the twin-bearing ewes, so about 46kg over the last six-to-eight weeks.

“Later lambing ewes will consume more meal, so that’s why it’s important to group your ewes according to scanning results. You should be grouping your ewes according to the number of lambs they are carrying and whether they are lambing early or late.

“The reason for this is because you won’t have to start feeding the late-lambers as soon as the ewes lambing earlier, or at least you will be able to start them at a lower rate and this will help to reduce the amount of meal you’re feeding and, in turn, help to reduce meal costs.”