Supplemental feeding methods

joe3

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I'm glad I was able to help.

If you are getting alfalfa at $8/bale that is a great price.

Figuring the protein level of alfalfa at 18% your sheep should get about 3-5 lbs. of good alfalfa daily to maintain a moderate weight, depending on the breed and size. We feed am and pm so divide the amounts in half for each feeding. Feed depending on the body condition of the animals, and the life cycle they are in - increase slightly to flush before breeding, don't increase while pregnant to avoid too much weight gain, reduce slightly during last month of pregnancy to lessen oversize of lambs, and increase again after lambing while lactating. During breeding season rams will sometimes drop a bit of weight but will regain it once removed from cycling ewes.

You can also feed depending on the individual weight of the sheep. We find that a medium frame sheep - about 120-140 lbs. needs 1/3 flake daily, larger breeds may need 1/2 flake. Flakes can vary in weight depending on your hay and the quality. No grain is needed depending on breed. If you have sheep that need more than alfalfa while lactating, then you can add some grain. I don't use expensive pellet feed blends, I just use rolled barleycorn. It is much cheaper, is a dry feed, easy to store in metal cans and measure.

BTW: You can buy ready-made creep gates from sheep equipment suppliers, but can also make your own using 2x4s, rebar, and PVC pipes over the rebar to spin when lambs pass through. Look online for patterns and instructions. We have used both. If you can't find a pattern, let me know and I can post one.
Just had to go and one-up yourself, didn't ya?

You continue to be a font of sheep wisdom. I was going to make my own creep and rack feeders using cut down hog panels, but I didn't think about PVC. Genius.

I'm still trying to source cheaper feeds. Obviously tractor supply is crap. Wilco has a good grass screenibg pellet they sell: 14.5% protein and it's 12 bucks for 50 pounds. That's actually cheaper than buying it from the feed mill in bulk, but we should only need it to supplement after lambing since alfalfa is now our long term plan.

Update to the alfalfa price. The guy got back to me, and much to my disappointment, he listed his location on Craigslist much closer than he actually is. He's about 200 miles away in the central part of the state. I can get it locally for about 15 bucks for 3 string bales. If I had a tractor with forks I would buy round bales, but not yet.
 

SageHill

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$8 a bale! Faint! I just ordered alfalfa- to be delivered Thursday- $20/ bale (and I was happy with that)
50# alfalfa pellets $18
Wowzers luck you. 👍🏼😊
 

farmerjan

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Round bales of alfalfa will lose alot of the leaf in the alfalfa... it is "tumbled" during the baling process and alfalfa leaves "shatter" more easily while being baled. A good alfalfa mix would be better in a round bale as any grass would help to contain the alfalfa leaves in the baling process. There are improved alfalfa varieties that will retain more of the leaf quality now though.
A 3 string bale will weigh quite a bit more than the 2 string variety. so in the neighborhood of over 100 lbs per bale so that is a very good price if it is made right. Farmers in this area are getting $12 a "sq bale" that will weigh in the neighborhood of 50-65 lbs...
Hog panels will have the smaller size holes on the bottom of the panels. If you get strictly the cattle panels, the holes are nearly the same size top to bottom. If you get the combination cattle panels, the hole size is smaller at the bottom and larger at the top, to "obviously" be used for a combination of animal species. @secuono made some hay feeders to acommodate her Baby doll sheep putting their heads through to eat....using panels and bunks to keep them from getting into it and seem to work well for her. Many on here have used panels for various ways of keeping animals from getting into the hay or bunks and making a mess and wasting the hay and grains fed.
You have got to store alfalfa inside even in the round bales because it will weather way too much with alot of loss of quality. Alfalfa is a coarser stem so it will not shed the water/weather and water will seep down into the bale more with greater amount of waste. I personally would not want alfalfa in round bales.
 

Baymule

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I have 30 ewes, 3 rams, currently 8 lambs, 5 of which are ewes. 1 ewe will go out on a trade for another. 2 rams are spoken for and 1 ram I’m not impressed with so he will go to that marvelous sheep resort, Freezer Camp. So where does that leave me? 35 ewes. I have 14 due end of March and first of April. Numbers will fluctuate. LOL

I have 25 acres, 2 fields are fenced. No barn. That’s on my radar for this year. Bought this place July, 2022. Had to put up some fence, moved August 28, 2022. A week later, me, Ridgetop and her DH went to Tennessee for me to buy a ram from @Mike CHS . Had a great time! 2 weeks after that, I had knee replacement surgery. That slowed me down a little.

Cow panels are wonderful building units. If I had it to do over, I would have bought sheep and goat panels. Sheep can poke their heads through the 6” holes and pop their ear tags off. Sheep and goat panels have 4” squares. Oh well.

Panels make instant pens. I’ll be dragging some around this weekend to make a hoop shelter in newly fenced field and a night pen for expecting ewes.

I have my flock divided in 2 groups right now. I use feed bunks and smaller tubs. By feeding in several places, the greedy girls can all have something to eat. They have free choice grass hay, 14% pellets and a little alfalfa. Alfalfa is expensive here at $23 a bale. I would be knocked over if I found alfalfa at $8 a bale!

I feed over the fence so I don’t get knocked down. That gives the option of sticking their heads under the bucket in order to splatter the feed everywhere or attempt to stick their head in the bucket so they can have the whole thing.

Rams are kept separate. 1 ram is with the bred group, will be separating them this weekend. Important to separate rams, especially before lambing. Rams will breed back the ewes and the ewe lambs on their first heat. Plus all the reasons listed by @Ridgetop.

It can take awhile to get the infrastructure in place. Probably a good thing as it gives you time to figure out your first brilliant ideas aren’t so great. LOL You can take pictures and we can throw out ideas. Some may fit your situation, some won’t. Pick what works for you.

Enjoy your sheep! And if you ever come to visit in Texas, bring a load of that $8 alfalfa! Hands off y’all! I said it first! LOL
 

farmerjan

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Hey @joe3 .... sounds like you are well situated to keeping your hay and all that... Great.
Could you go to your name top right, click down to account details and down to location and put something, like Pacific northwest in there... I had to refer back to your first post to remember where you are located.. it just makes it easier for all of us "in our Prime" members to associate situations when you mention things or ask questions...
Thanks
 
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