Sheep feed

Aboucher

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Hello,

I hope someone can point me in the right direction. We have almost reached our 1 year mark with our first sheep, 3 ewes and 5 lambs. The sheep we got are used to being fed twice a day, a snack of corn and soy on top of pasture. We are interested in a healthy feed to keep them friendly and also top off pasture in winter and during lambing. I have read here that feed isn’t exactly necessary, we had two ewes get thin, one with pregnancy toxemia and we are concerned taking feed away completely would make them thin again. We also had a burst of really cold weather, much colder than normal so they ended up spending a few weeks in the barn prior to lambing. They were okay with hay but got really excited about the feed when we brought it out. We were thinking of trying to avoid soy, maybe a mixture of barley, oats and alfalfa? Maybe a little corn too. Is there a resource I can check out for help with this? Or does anyone have any suggestions? As I said this is new for us so we are very open to ideas, critiques, suggestions, anything.
 

Baymule

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We use an all purpose 14% pellet. We feed it to the sheep, horses, pigs and chickens. Sure makes things easier. LOL That said, for poor ewes that get dragged down by lambs, I give a special ration with cracked corn mixed in and a handful of black oil sunflower seeds. I also mix in a little 16% lamb raiser, it's a sweet feed. We started 6 years ago with 4 bred ewes.

I have one in particular that always looks bad and takes awhile to get back in good condition. I recently sold the 2 breeding ewes that I kept from her and won't keep any more from her. She herself will always get to stay, she loves hugs from our little grand daughters and that is worth keeping her for the rest of her life. We sold half our flock, 6 ewes, last weekend at auction last weekend. It was hard, but to move forward with better stock, we had to cull hard. We kept 6 ewe lambs that look to be twice the quality of what we culled. It's a little genetically lopsided as they all seem to be descended from one very good ewe, but we are also now looking for some registered ewes to upgrade our little flock.

I know the attachment of favorites, but if the poor ewes you have also have equally poor ewes that get dragged down by lambing, you might want to concentrate your efforts on the ewes that stay in good condition. It's hard, the ones we sold had names, I raised them, but Their quality left a lot to be desired.

There isn't enough pasture here to fully support our sheep, so we also feed them, along with free choice hay. Not feed them? Not hardly. They are spoiled creatures, they love their feed and will follow us anywhere.
 

wolf

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When I first heard about pregancy-illness caused by a drop of calcium and glucose in the blood, I started sterilizing my eggshells, grinding them to powder in a food processor, adding an equal amount of sugar to the shells, and grinding a bit more. This I dump in a close coffee-can, and add a tablespoon on top of their cup and a half of sheep & lamb feed - for their last 6-wks before birth. Haven't had a problem.
 

Cotton*wood

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We use an all purpose 14% pellet. We feed it to the sheep, horses, pigs and chickens. Sure makes things easier. LOL That said, for poor ewes that get dragged down by lambs, I give a special ration with cracked corn mixed in and a handful of black oil sunflower seeds. I also mix in a little 16% lamb raiser, it's a sweet feed. We started 6 years ago with 4 bred ewes.

I have one in particular that always looks bad and takes awhile to get back in good condition. I recently sold the 2 breeding ewes that I kept from her and won't keep any more from her. She herself will always get to stay, she loves hugs from our little grand daughters and that is worth keeping her for the rest of her life. We sold half our flock, 6 ewes, last weekend at auction last weekend. It was hard, but to move forward with better stock, we had to cull hard. We kept 6 ewe lambs that look to be twice the quality of what we culled. It's a little genetically lopsided as they all seem to be descended from one very good ewe, but we are also now looking for some registered ewes to upgrade our little flock.

I know the attachment of favorites, but if the poor ewes you have also have equally poor ewes that get dragged down by lambing, you might want to concentrate your efforts on the ewes that stay in good condition. It's hard, the ones we sold had names, I raised them, but Their quality left a lot to be desired.

There isn't enough pasture here to fully support our sheep, so we also feed them, along with free choice hay. Not feed them? Not hardly. They are spoiled creatures, they love their feed and will follow us anywhere.
We just started out this year (also with four bred ewes), but realized pretty quickly that we didn't get the best stock in the world. Three out of the four ewe lambs have double-teats on each side. But we've decided is to stick with what we have for the time being and think about getting better stock later.

All four of our ewes are pretty skinny, even on good pasture (body condition score about 2?). I've done fecal egg counts, and it's not a parasite problem, and the monster lambs are barely nursing at all, but maybe it just takes time to recover after lambing? I did supplement their hay/grass with grain the last month of their pregnancies and for awhile afterwards until the grass came in. The lambs all seem fine.
 

Baymule

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@Cotton*wood we started with mixed ewes and had our mishaps along the way. We culled for heavy worm loads, I swear, I don’t know why they weren’t dead! But my point is, with commercial ewes, if you lose lambs or a sheep it’s not like you are losing a large investment. Hate to sound callous, but why add financial hurt to a broken heart. I’ve cried and buried a few. I’ve learned a lot along the way. The good people here have been a wealth of information. Finally we are going to get two registered ewes tomorrow, they are 3 1/2 months old, so it will be awhile before they can be bred. I’m so excited!
 

misfitmorgan

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It does take awhile to recover from lambing/nursing. How much grain are you giving them? Our sheep get a sweet feed sheep grain, it has alfalfa pellets, cracked corn and oats. During lactation as a base line sheep need 1Lb of grain per lamb, if you use a sheep grain it should contain enough calcium to prevent issues unless your ewes are having triplets or quads. We start giving grain 4 weeks before lambing to help with weight loss. Make sure they have 24hrs access to loose minerals as well. If the lambs are old enough to be weaned you will need to separate them. Two reasons, male lambs can breed very young and lambs will not totally stop nursing usually until after weaning(separating) for several weeks until mom dries off.

If they get to thin while nursing as Bay said, you will ultimately want to replace them. This year our sheep got very down in weight to a sick level because we put calves with our sheep and didn't realize how much of the grain the calves and lambs were eating.
 

Cotton*wood

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It does take awhile to recover from lambing/nursing. How much grain are you giving them? Our sheep get a sweet feed sheep grain, it has alfalfa pellets, cracked corn and oats. During lactation as a base line sheep need 1Lb of grain per lamb, if you use a sheep grain it should contain enough calcium to prevent issues unless your ewes are having triplets or quads. We start giving grain 4 weeks before lambing to help with weight loss. Make sure they have 24hrs access to loose minerals as well. If the lambs are old enough to be weaned you will need to separate them. Two reasons, male lambs can breed very young and lambs will not totally stop nursing usually until after weaning(separating) for several weeks until mom dries off.

If they get to thin while nursing as Bay said, you will ultimately want to replace them. This year our sheep got very down in weight to a sick level because we put calves with our sheep and didn't realize how much of the grain the calves and lambs were eating.
I'm not giving them any grain--just when I need to move them to a different paddock. The sheep folks in my area (and the person I bought these ewes from) don't feed any grain at all. I supplemented with grain when I first got them, and they were losing weight, what with being pregnant, and all, but I had hoped they could be 100% pasture fed like everyone else's are. Maybe that's not in the cards. They aren't dangerously thin, but I had thought they'd fatten up more than they have on grass. At four months, the lambs are barely nursing. Is it possible to just let them wean naturally? I'm not sure where I'd put the lambs--would a separate electrified paddock in another field work? How long would they need to be separated before they could join their mamas again? They do have constant access to loose minerals.
 

misfitmorgan

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Some breeds you can skip grain but it highly depends on your pasture and the sheep themselves. Not all sheep or breeds can handle pasture only feed systems. You are likely in a situation where the people sold the offpsring of sheep who were not really good on pasture....because of that very reason. Sheep that work for pasture only can be bred up too.
 

misfitmorgan

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Sorry I forgot to answer the other question. At 4 months they should have been weaned at least a month ago. Any nursing is still forcing the ewes to produce milk, long term the ewe can not sustain that esp without grain. If you can separate the lambs for 2-4 weeks to let the ewes dry off you should be ok to put them back together after that. If you have any male lambs you need to band them or keep them separate, they can breed at 4 months old.

It is very possible also that your sheep are great pasture only sheep.....just not ment to be nursing for 4 months after carrying lambs for 5 months. Thats 9 months of a calorie deficiency any animal would have a hard time keeping condition on just grass for 9 months while prego and nursing.
 

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