At the end of 2016 we asked you to tell us about your surplus lamb rearing practices. More than 45% of you saw an opportunity to rear more lambs artificially this year as you gear up to take advantage of a potentially changing market environment.
And there’s no doubt that many of you have put this intention into practice. Interest in automatic milk feeding machines sales has been phenomenal this year and we have helped many new sheep farmers take advantage of the benefits that come with machine rearing. As a result, many more producers now understand that surplus lambs can be reared very efficiently artificially and without the problems associated with fostering onto an unwilling ewe. With good husbandry, organisation and the right milk replacer, there’s no doubt you can produce good quality lambs, as well as save hours of effort and hassle. You’ve proved it for yourselves.
We hope your new lambs are now growing fast and that the welcome rainfall for many during the second half of May has given pasture grass growth a timely boost.
Weaning surplus lambs
For late season lambers, don’t forget to wean and surplus lambs correctly over the coming weeks. Any lambs fed on Lamlac milk replacer should be:
- A minimum of 2.5 times their birth weight (9-10kg), so typically about 25kg
- A minimum of 35 days old
- Consuming 250g of solid feed per day for a three day period
Weaning of surplus lambs reared artificially is most successfully achieved when Lamlac is withdrawn abruptly, provided that lambs are old enough and that intake of solid feed is adequate. Lambs should have been eating solid feed for at least 10 days and be making use of the drinking water supply.
Weaning lambs off the ewe (AHDB Beef)
From eight weeks of age at pasture a lamb's energy intake is greater from grass than from milk. At this point the competition between ewes and lambs for high-quality grass reaches a critical point. Grazing management and grass growth will differ year on year so the ideal weaning date cannot be set in stone; figures from the AHDB Beef and Lamb Stocktake survey suggest lambs are usually weaned off their mothers at between 12 and 14 weeks of age.
If grass is growing well and ewes are in good condition, weaning can be delayed without reducing lamb liveweight gain. However, if forage availability is low, lamb growth rates will suffer, as ewes and lambs compete for the same grass.
AHDB Beef and Lamb advises:
- If lamb growth rates are lower than 200g per day, this should trigger weaning and lambs should be moved onto better quality forage.
- If creep feed is being fed, liveweight gain may not decline after eight weeks, so weaning decisions should be based on how long the lambs have until they are finished as well as ewe condition.
- High quality grass with lots of green leaf and limited stem and dead matter will be greater than 11.5 MJ of ME compared to less than 8 MJ for grass with high degree of dead matter and stem.
- Dry matter intake is calculated at four per cent of bodyweight, for example, a 30kg lamb consuming 1.2 kg DM per day with access to 11.5 MJ forage will be consuming 13.8 MJ per day and should be gaining more than 250g per day.
Tell us your lambing stories
So how was your 2016/17 lambing season?
We’d love to hear about your experience and also the sort of topics you’d like us to focus on in future Lamlac blogs. Complete our short survey today and you could even win some LAMLAC goodies! The survey will be open until 23rd June 2017, with the first 50 respondents winning some LAMLAC goodies!
We look forward to your feedback and thank you for engaging with us this season!
Click to complete survey or use the form below.
Terms and conditions
- The survey is only open to sheep producers in Great Britain and N.Ireland.
- A cash alternative is not available and the prize is non-transferable.
- Only one free gift allowed per person; gifts numbers will be limited to the first 50 respondents.
- Once the survey is closed there will be no more free gifts available.
- Free gifts can only be guaranteed while stocks last.
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- This survey is being run by Volac International Ltd, who can be contacted at Volac House, Orwell, Royston, Herts, SG8 5QX. Telephone: 01223208021.