Feeding ewes feeds profits

31 Mar, 2010 12:34 PM
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Sheep producers can optimise their profitability by identifying ewes with twins.
Sheep producers can optimise their profitability by identifying ewes with twins.

SHEEP producers have been advised to look after their ewes and lambs to make the most of high sheep prices.

Considerable research by Department of Agriculture and Food, through the Lifetimewool project, has shown investing in ewe and lamb nutrition improves productivity and profitability.

Development officer Mandy Curnow said supplementary feeding at this time of the year was imperative.

Ms Curnow said farmers had made a big commitment in getting their ewes through pregnancy, and it would be a waste not to finish the job by investing in adequate nutrition to get live lambs on the ground.

“It is important to maintain ewe condition in the lead up to lambing to ensure good ewe and lamb survival,” she said.

“The general rule is ewes in late pregnancy need about 12 mega joules of energy a day. At this time most pastures are only giving about four to five mega joules per kilogram of feed. This means that supplementary feeding will need to be at least seven hundred grams per head per day to maintain condition.”

A supplementary feed Lifetimewool budget tool is available from department district offices or can be downloaded from the Lifetimewool website. The department’s website also has an on-line supplementary feed calculator for the break of season.

Ms Curnow said there was an opportunity for sheep producers to lift their profitability this year, with the higher lamb prices and lower grain prices, by targeting lamb survival, particularly with twin bearing ewes.

“For those flocks lambing later in the season, there is an opportunity for producers to consider pregnancy scanning for multiple births to identify twinning ewes and look after them as a priority,” she said.

“Then farmers can tailor their feed and management strategies for best effect.”

Farmers interested in learning more about optimising flock potential can participate in the Lifetime Ewe Management program, developed by in conjunction with the Sheep Co-operative Research Centre with support from the Rural Industries Skills Training.

“The program is based on a small group of farmers following a mob of their own ewes through an entire reproductive season, learning the skills of feed budgeting and seeing the impact of efficient management on lamb and ewe survival, higher stocking rates and productivity,” Ms Curnow said.

“The LTEM groups combine the latest research with practical ‘hands on’ activities so farmers can implement strategies that will make a difference to their own flock.”

A FarmReady subsidy is available for the course. People interested in participating in a LEM group should contact Jonathan England on 9881 0208 or email jonathan.england@agric.wa.gov.au

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Department of Agriculture and FoodSource: http://www.agric.wa.gov.au

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