MID-SEASON lambs will be weaned on farms across Northern Ireland over the coming weeks.
The good news is that flock owners are reporting lambs to be in tremendous condition. This has been brought about by a combination of the dry weather and the fact that most ewes had plenty of milk in the wake of the excellent grazing conditions enjoyed by all stock up to this point.
The challenge for sheep producers now is to ensure that lambs get through the weaning process with the minimum of disturbance and that they continue to thrive over the coming weeks.
Making best use of grazed grass will be critical in making this happen.
David Morgan, from Caltech: Crystalyx, takes up the story: “This is a critical time for growing lambs as their nutritional levels must be maintained, so as to ensure that daily growth rates are fully maintained once they come off their mothers’ milk.
“However, forage quality is now starting to deteriorate. Grass growth rates have been halted in the wake of the current dry spell, and the grass that is available is now becoming mature. D-values are dropping rapidly.”
David went on to point out that Crystalyx Extra High Energy feed tubs can significantly and economically improve animal performance for sheep.”
Independent trial work carried out at Newcastle University has shown that Crystalyx increases the rate of forage digestion by rumen bacteria (by up to 10 per cent).
In turn this stimulates forage intakes due to a reduced gut fill effect, increasing grass intake rather than replacing it.
And that’s not all! Crystalyx also increases forage digestibility, so animals actually get more energy out of what they eat. These benefits continue throughout the
grazing season, as long as forage supplies remain plentiful.
David added: “Crystalyx provides all the minerals, trace elements and vitamins needed to balance grass, which is essential for optimum animal performance and health.
“But the rumen bugs also need minerals to help them digest the grass and the little and often trickle feeding system supplied by Crystalyx is an ideal method of ensuring this.
“Crystalyx also provides a concentrated source of sugar. This is important to help maintain rumen digestive efficiency.
“Weaned lambs will benefit from access to Crystalyx whilst at grass but may take a couple of weeks to get used to the licks if they have not been fed them before. Intakes are typically only 20-30g/day for these smaller animals.”
David concluded: “Weaning is a critical time in a lamb’s life. Every step must be taken to ensure that the process is carried out in ways that minimise stress levels in these young animals. If this is not achieved, lambs can lose a significant amount of weight, which will take time to recoup.
“Repeated farm trials and commercial farm experience here in Ireland confirm that the availability of Crystalyx Extra High Energy feed tubs will greatly facilitate the weaning process and ensure that weaned lambs will quickly be able to make best use of grazed grass.”