Managing Sheep in a Summer Dry

A dry summer period is expected in most regions every year, and provided the spring has been kind, most people can make it through unscathed. However, it is the unexpected extended dry periods that can catch people out. Knowing the nutritional requirements of your different stock classes, and how to meet their needs when the going gets tough, is key to ensuring weight and body condition scores stay on track until the rain arrives.

As soils lose moisture content, pasture becomes stressed. This causes a decrease in growth rates, a drop in protein and energy content, and an increase in the amount of NDF / fibrous stalk in the plant. This combination means ewes and lambs must eat more volume of the lesser quality feed to meet their nutritional requirements. However, due to the higher NDF the pasture is tougher and bulkier, making it harder to eat, and filling them up faster. Additionally, there’s also less of it ahead for the coming weeks.

A mature 50kg ewe on maintenance requires only 10ME (metabolisable energy), which is approximately 1kgDM of summer pasture, however growing lambs and hogget’s require more like 12-15ME to keep them on track (1). To ensure sufficient feed intake, the first port of call is typically to preferentially feed lambs, hogget’s and under conditioned ewes with the better pasture, and leave the shorter, lower quality pasture to the remaining mobs. However, when doing this, care needs be taken to not over graze paddock with hungry stock, as this will negatively impact pasture regrowth in the autumn.  To avoid overgrazing, and keep the farms future growth secured, it is worth while considering supplementary feed options when home-grown feed isn’t hitting the mark for quality and/or volume.

SealesWinslow have two solutions which are ideal to use with a targeted approach to keep the business profitable over a harsh summer.
The first is the Lamber Max block. This 22.5kg block is best suited to a system which has the volume of feed, but is lacking quality. This provides 16MJME/kgDM, which is close to 1ME/head/day with a typical 60g intake. It also provides 12% crude protein to drive live weight gain, as well as a full pack of essential minerals, trace elements and vitamins to compliment a typical New Zealand pasture. Additional to all the goodies included in this block, the dehydration process during manufacturing results in this block being 33% readily available simple sugar. This is perfect for helping power the rumen bugs to breakdown high-fibre grass faster, and more effectively, which subsequently drives appetite, and therefore improved performance. 
The second is the Sheep pellet. This option is more suited to a farm system that is lacking dry matter and needs an easy and convenient way to provide extra feed to stock, to prevent over grazing pastures. This pellet is high quality, providing 12MJME/kgDM (or 2.5ME per 200 grams fed) and 16% crude protein- not only will it fill the feed gap, but it will also keep your lambs growing, and your ewes cycling. This product can come in a 6mm pellet or 10mm nut, and is available in bulk, bulk bags or 20kg bags, making it user friendly in any system. 
To learn more about these products, and how they could be your next summer solution, check out them out on the website, or talk to your local TSR today 0800 287325
1. Beef + Lamb New Zealand. A guide to feed planing for sheep farmers. 2018.
lamber max
Lamber Max
A dehydrated molasses block designed to increase the microbial activity in the gut of ewes, lambs and rams to improve rumen function and pasture utilisation. This supports feed intake, digestion, live weight gain, lamb survival, trace element status and fertility.