New sheep - feed transition

Stephine

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So we are getting closer to getting our first sheep. Breeder said they are on alfalfa and Barale Sheep Keeper right now. Since I will get two wethers and a not bred ewe I think I should get them transitioned off the alfalfa and onto a grass hay. Also probably stop the sheep keeper at some point? They will be about 5 months old.
Would love feeding/transitioning advice.
 

Beekissed

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I do pasture/grass feed only but most of the lambs I buy have been eating creep of some kind or other. I just put them on pasture and let them be. I think the change would only be a concern if one was changing from grass to grain all the sudden or from one type of grain based feed to another. I've not had any issues at all when transitioning sheep that have been grained to an all grass or hay diet.
 

Stephine

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Are they on pasture now?
If so, you can stop everything else.
And going down/switching to less from higher proteins & sugars is safe.
I haven’t asked - but can’t imagine they would have anything green to eat right now. Around here, any animal „on pasture“ just has dry grass and weeds to eat if there’s anything left to munch on at all. I imagine that’s why she is feeding alfalfa. Here the summer is hay eating season... At our place they will go in the back horse pasture, which is mostly dry wild oat grass now. It’s quite tall and I don’t believe they will eat much of that, do you?
Anyway, so what I‘m hearing is that switching from alfalfa to grass hay is fine - correct? And that they are old enough to drop the sheep keeper feed? Maybe I‘ll keep a little around for a training treat?
Should I give any supplements besides the salt lick and baking powder made available? Something that might balance out whatever they are not getting from the hay?
 

secuono

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I haven’t asked - but can’t imagine they would have anything green to eat right now. Around here, any animal „on pasture“ just has dry grass and weeds to eat if there’s anything left to munch on at all. I imagine that’s why she is feeding alfalfa. Here the summer is hay eating season... At our place they will go in the back horse pasture, which is mostly dry wild oat grass now. It’s quite tall and I don’t believe they will eat much of that, do you?
Anyway, so what I‘m hearing is that switching from alfalfa to grass hay is fine - correct? And that they are old enough to drop the sheep keeper feed? Maybe I‘ll keep a little around for a training treat?
Should I give any supplements besides the salt lick and baking powder made available? Something that might balance out whatever they are not getting from the hay?

Mine eat all the leafy parts and seedheads, leaving the bare stems for me to deal with. 😑 I can't even put 5 ponies on 0.3-0.4 acres of stems, because they'll still get fat off it...So I mow the stems.
What breed are they? Should of asked that first. Babydoll should do fine on grass or grass hay/pellets alone, but other breeds may need more protein or in general a lot more food intake than others. My Corriedale had to be free fed alfalfa pellets, while my BFL/Cheviot was fine on pasture with the Babydolls. Their Babydoll crossed mutt lambs have been fine treated like Babydoll.
Complete feeds should have all the minerals they need, but I'm assuming that from experience with horse feeds. Idk if it's true for sheep feed. If it is, then you wouldn't need to feed much else, besides loose hay for gut mobility.
I've switched to Kalmbach sheep mineral vs premier1 sheep mix this year. No more mixing plain salt with the minerals, yay. It's salt and minerals together, ready to pour into buckets. It also has something in it which helps with selenium absorption.
I feed pasture, grass or alfalfa pellets and hay, not complete sheep feed, so they need the minerals in the salt. Yours might not need it if fed the complete feed, but then you'd have to follow the bag for pounds of feed a day per sheep to equal the right amount of vits and minerals.
 

Stephine

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Google shows there's a lot of room. Looks like up to at least up to 2 adults, maybe 3 in the new models. So 3 lambs should fit just fine.
Yes, we have the newer model (well, a 2013, but that’s the newer, bigger type). I have a sturdy wire panel for the dog between the back and the back seats. Do you think I would still need to put them in crates? Or could they just be loose? There’s a smallish opening in the two top corners, maybe 8x8 ish, but an irregular shape. They wouldn’t try to get through there, would they? Our English Shepherd did, as a pup, so I had to tie him up short back in there until he calmed down... But he is super agile and was an absolutely insane puppy.
 

farmerjan

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If you don't mind the sheep pellets, then there is plenty of room for the sheep. I have a 2001 outback and would not have any considerations to bring home 3 lambs. I have brought home 3 newborn holstein bull calves in it....The sheep would most likely not even think about trying to get through that small a spot. Especially with 3, they have each other for company.
Going to just a grass hay would be fine. At 5 months they have much of their growth so not like you are going to be stunting them. Feed a little grain, just a very little, for the first few days to help them acclimate to their new "quarters". Then you might want to just feed a handful once or twice a week to keep them coming to you calling them... keep them friendlier. You want to give them something when you call them... some sort of a treat or reward for doing as you want them. With our cattle, we always give them something when we call them.... buckets are GREAT motivators.... after a week or so where they can get some grass, they should be fine with just grass. You will have less problems with too abrupt changes in their manure which is an indication of a sudden change in diet.
Just like you should not go from eating all solid type meals to eating all fruit.... gradual over a week or so will be much kinder. The gut bacteria will adjust with more gradual change over...
 

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