Bread, bread and more bread - bad for my lambs?

wexcellent

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I have no idea what I'm doing. I've done some reading but decided I'd just post a new topic.

I have no background with farming but have jumped in with both feet. I've done pigs fairly successfully for several years and have chickens.

This year I decided to try some dorper lambs to raise for meat. I have limitted pasture. I volunteer for a food coop and always have tons of high quality whole grain bread available. This is really good, organic, high fiber/protein stuff (think $4.39 a loaf). I don't give my lambs any grain, but have been giving them about 1 loaf of bread a day. I can tell that the pasture is being used up more and more. One of the lambs, who I swear is possessed by a demon and has the most awful bleat you have ever heard, hardly made a sound when I opened up a new section of my yard, but now he's back to his obnoxious self so I'm assuming it means he doesn't have easy feed and is "hungry".

What should I do? I have a hay dealer friend who can probably hook me up with some quality hay so I'm assuming I should probably start supplementing that way.

Can I up their bread or is that just a bad idea and should I do grain instead? What if I just increased their bread - will they just become fatty? I really don't want to go too far down that road - I made that mistake once with my pigs.

How can I really tell if they are getting enough? I've read that if they are fatty they will have a soft lump above their tail - these do not. But they seem plump enough but then I don't really know what a plump sheep looks like.

Any help would be appreciated.

Steve
 

rockdoveranch

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I laughed with I saw the name of your thread. I don't know what it is about bread, but is seems like most all animals like it.

When I throw out food to the chickens that we cannot eat, our sheep will go through it. They love bread too.

To me, the sheep seem to have a small vocabulary. I do not understand it, but they seem to amongst themselves.

If I were you, and did not have enough pasture grass, I would supplement with pellets made for sheep and hay. Do you have a sheep mineral block for them?

Are your Dorper all white, or do you have the black heads? We bought 1 white ram lamb last year and 2 white ewe lambs. We have not had a good experience with them, although our 2 remaining White Dorper, a ewe and her lamb, seem to be doing good.
 

wexcellent

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I forgot to mention that of course a primary consideration is saving money - otherwise I wouldn't bother with the bread. If I can get away with growing them on less grain and hay by using more bread I'd like to. Just don't know what I can get away with.

These a black headed, I'm curious what's been bad about your dorpers Rockdove.

Steve
 

aggieterpkatie

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I would supplement with a good quality hay, and you probably won't even need grain. I'd skip the bread, unless it's just small amounts. They really need fiber from forages.
 

carolinagirl

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If you are raising these animals for meat, I would not worry too much about giving them bread. It's not a very healthy long-term diet, but these animals are not in it for the long term anyway. It's probably going to put more fat on them then a good quality hay forage would though. If your funds are limited (and who isn't in this position with the economy like it is), and your goal is to put some meat in the freezer, it does not make sense to spend tons of money trying to produce meat when you have a source of free food. I will reintereate though....bread is not an appropriate long-term diet for any animal. I raised goats on bread years ago because I had access to lots of it for cheap. They did fine.....but they were just scrub goats and has access to lots of forage in the woods too. I'd say don't use bread as their primary food. Use it to supplement their mostly hay and pasture diet and watch their stool carefully to make sure that it's not loose or runny. Introduce the bread slowly and work up in quantities. There are over-eating diseases that sheep can get and I don't know how much bread might cause them problems.
 

wexcellent

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Thanks for the common sense advice. At a loaf a day their stools look just like when I was giving them no bread. I feed it to them mid day because they seem to be grazing most heavily in the morning and evening.

It sounds like I just have to try and get some good hay to supplement their forage and that it's probably safe to give them the bread, maybe even more as they grow, to make sure they are getting the protein they need.

I really appreciate this website and your help!

Steve
 

rockdoveranch

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wexcellent said:
I forgot to mention that of course a primary consideration is saving money - otherwise I wouldn't bother with the bread. If I can get away with growing them on less grain and hay by using more bread I'd like to. Just don't know what I can get away with.

These a black headed, I'm curious what's been bad about your dorpers Rockdove.

Steve
I think we bought from a unreliable breeder. If we buy any more we will drive deep into the Texas Hill Country where there are a lot of Dorper breeders, although we have a Black Headed Dorper breeder fairly close by now.

We have had Texas Barbado since 2004 and have had very few problems. We bought a White Dorper ram lamb and 2 White Dorper ewe lambs June 2010. Recently our ram died for no obvious reason. I wish now that we have taken him to have a necropsy done. One of the ewes did not shed her winter wool that was 4 to 5 inches deep. We tried to cut as much hair off as we could a couple of nights ago and she died in the process. From what posters here have suggested, it was probably the heat and the stress that caused her to die.

The surviving ewe did shed and has just a little wool along her back that will easily come out it if grab a hold of it. She has given us one lovely ewe lamb. The wool on the ewe that died did not pull out. It was deep attached wool, if that makes sense.

All the sheep were registered with the Dorper Association, but I do not believe the one that died was all Dorper.

I would love to see pictures of your lambs!
 

Bossroo

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Currently, My across the street neighbor in C. Cal., raises Suffolk. Suffolk/ Hampshire, White Face , Barbados and Dorper ewes and used to use Suffolk, Barbados, and Dorper rams in seperate groups. When he used them all in one breeding group, about 3/4 of all the lambs were Dorper X's. His most thrifty, productive, and gain more muscle weight on less feed ( 90- 95 lbs vs on average of 60-85 lbs for the others at weaning) therefore most profitable ( $$$) sheep for the past 3 years have been the Dorpers and the Dorper X's. So, he is culling the others. My friends and people that I know (each have raised sheep commercially [ at least 50 to several hundred] for over 20 years)in Cal., Oregon, and Washington that raise Dorpers as well as other breeds such as Suffolk, Southdown,WF, Katahdin, St. Croix, etc. side by side, all say that their best sheep are the Dorpers and Dorper X's. The Dorper was developed in South Africa by crossing the Persian desert hair sheep ewes ( sheds wool) with the polled Dorset ram (non shedding wooled sheep). So, simple laws of inheritance will tell one that not all Dorpers will completly or partially shed their wool. Backcrossing such sheep to completly shedding mates will increase the likelyhood that the offspring will shed completely. The Dorper is moreso a browser rather than a grazer due to the Persian desert ewe ancester, so more akin to a goat in their eating preferences. Therefore they are more thrifty on poorer feed. Mortality losses are no more than any other breed and often less due to their inherited hardiness ( very active, like popcorn at birth compared to 100's of other breed newborn lambs that I have raised) of their newborn lambs, ability to digest poorer quality of feed, better able to handle heat, and natural paracite resistance, and able to successfully raise more twins at higher weaning weights of 3 lamb crops within 2 years. As for the awful bleat, that is an individual thing... the most non stop vociferous noise producer that I ever had was a Suffolk ewe. As for the most demon like behavior was a Ramboulet ram. Now for the bread... composed of ground grains ( flour), sugar, fat, water and/ or milk, and cultured yeast plus heat for bakeing ( some breads may contain added preservatives). Wild yeast is all over the place in Nature. The wild card in feeding bread vs. grain is that once the baked and dried bread is ingested into the mouth, then into the stomach/ gut it first is mixed with saliva, then absorbs digestive acids and other liquids such as water and becomes a gummy dough like substance once again in the digestive tract and may not be able to be digested and absorbed into the bloodstream as well as unprocessed grains would be. I had to stop writing as some unexpected people stoped by. This could casue impaction in the intestines. Sheep eat seed (a grain) from ripe and semi-ripe grasses and shrubs and seeds/fruit from trees all the time while out in pastures and corrals. Lambs are creep fed ground and/ or rolled grain while still on their dams and when weaned many go to feed lots and fed whole and/or ground/ rolled grain rations along with hay and/ or pasture all the time. Ewes are flushed with small quantities of grains and/or lush pastures and/or hay prior to breeding so that they are in better condition for pregnancy and late pregnancy. The difference in bread from other grains is that the grain in finely ground into flour and when the flour fine grain particles are ingested by the sheep , their natural gut bacteria will easily and rapidly consume the fine particles, multiply rapidly and will thereby produce large quantities of gas and toxins in the intestines causing bloat and/ or toxemia. Feeding some bread is fine, more is not better.
 

nsanywhere

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In my experience, that much bread is a NO. One of my sheep got into a loaf one day (I was feeding the chickens, turned my back, and it was gone!) - she was ill for days, her poop didn't pellet but got gloopy, she went off other food and just sat around looking miserable. I was very worried!

Once in a while I give them a piece or two of bread as a treat, but that's it. In general, sheep shouldn't eat a lot of grain, and bread is made from grains, (plus sugar, salt, fats, etc) so.....

I understand you are trying to save money, but there is a good chance the animals will get sick, need treatment or die, and end up costing you money.

Found this article on feeding bread to ruminants:
http://www.dpi.nsw.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0016/101338/grain-poisoning-of-cattle-and-sheep.pdf

"Other sources of carbohydrates, such as apples, grapes, bread, bakers dough and incompletely fermented brewers grain, can also cause poisoning if eaten in excess."

A sheep's natural diet does not contain grain, so for a healthy animal, I would vote to lay off the bread.
 

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