Sheep nutrition - what can I feed sheep other than grass, hay and ewe nuts?

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Nutrition is the largest variable cost associated with sheep production, and so modern sheep farms are looking to improve nutritional management. Making good quality silage (11 + MJ of ME/kg DM) for feeding during late pregnancy helps. However if silage stocks are insufficient, straw can be fed to ewes in late pregnancy with good results, although high levels of concentrate feeding are required. Alternative forage crops such as brassicas and fodder beet can also be fed, although there are issues with iodine deficiency and other diseases to be aware of. TMR systems are used by some sheep farms to reduce feed costs, using by-products and straights. Feeding additional Metabolisable Protein (in particular Digestible Undegradable Protein: DUP) in late pregnancy and lactation has been shown in some studies to increase ewe and lamb productivity, as well as reduce parasite burdens and worm egg output (especially in ewes in poor body condition). Herbs such as chicory show better drought tolerance than traditional ryegrass swards, and may have additional benefits for parasite control. Progressive sheep farms are currently making use of such nutritional techniques to increase productivity and reduce feed costs, thus improving the overall profitability of their business.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)34-40
JournalCattle Practice
Publication statusPublished - 18 Oct 2018


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