What do I feed my sheep?

Baymule

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Sheep are so funny. Yours have you well trained! Yell and food appears!
 

Show Sebright

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My sheep are really picky. I give grain really just in occasion or to get them somewhere but I mainly feed alfalfa (chaffaye) but it's very expensive! $15/50lbs so need another option. We don't have any alfalfa bales anywhere close and with the drought even worse. I have some new sheep that like Bermuda but can't get the original herd to eat it. Any ideas?
I also give them sheeplyx which is also costly now with 14 sheep I was considering loose mineral. I was told at the feed store sheeplyx has protein which is good for my newer/weaker sheep but is the loose mineral a good choice? They are mainly on pasture but chaffaye when pasture is low or winter....
Wait your telling me me alfalfa is only 15$??!??!?!!! Where are you? I need to live there? It’s 35-50$ Here and ours is old already.
 

Ridgetop

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We had a bale.sitting in their pen for over a year and nothing....
But did you have other food sources? And did you make that bale of hay palatable by cutting open the bale and mixing it with whatever they were used to eating? Don't just put both types out there, you have to mix them so they have to eat both. And after a year tht bale would not have been very good.
 

Ridgetop

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I have katadhin dorper crosses and honestly they have been on the fatter side. My original ewes have done we lambing but the way I feed I need.to be careful. They are for meat but have yet to sell any....just growing my herd. But they have become pets in the sense they yell at us for food...so I give I ....I'm learning to assess their ideal weights
Dorpers and Katahdins are known for processing poor and sparse pasture well. The South African saying about Dorpers is that they "can gain weight on rocks and cactus". These breeds were developed to gain, breed, lamb, and milk well on sparse pasture and forage. If you have good pasture, Dorper and Katahdin lambs will gain very well on pasture and forage alone. Wool breeds usually need higher amounts of protein and nutrition than Katahdins and Dorpers. Most wool breeds derive from European wool breeds (mainly English) from countries which have lush green pastures.

Remember that nutrition requirements will vary depending on the age of developing lambs, whether ewes are bred or lactating, etc. The most important thing is to know and recognize the condition score of your sheep. Learn to understand the charts and TDN.

When switching hay or feed, you should always do it slowly to avoid problems. Mix the new with the old at least half and half and gradually keep adding more of the new until they are switched over. Remember to keep the protein levels of the new vs the old in mind too since when switching to a lower protein feed you may have to supplement with another feed. However if you are trying to get your ram/wether lambs to a high rate of gain for faster sale, a creep is advisable. This doesn't mean that you should creep feed grain, just that the lambs have a separate place where the ewes can't get in so the lambs can have their hay in peace.

If you have lush pasture all breeds of sheep will thrive. You need to know the mineral content of your pasture soil so you can provide a mineral mix IF your soil does not contain all the nutrients. Not all pastures will need a heavy mineral supplement. And copper sensitivity in sheep does not mean that they do not need SOME copper. They just can't take the heavy copper in cattle and goat supplements. I don't like feeds that advertise they are suitable for all species because they will either have too much copper for sheep or be lacking copper for cattle and goats. It is important to check the tags on feed supplements. You should occasionally check the supplement tags on feed that you have been buying for several years because feed companies will sometimes change formulas to be more economical without notifying the consumer.

All sheep recognize that we bring some sort of food. And training them to a grain bucket can make life easier for the small shepherd. We have NO pasture here and our sheep are turned out on 5 acres during the day. They return to the night fold to be fed around dusk. This is the ideal time to count them and check for injuries, lameness, readiness to lamb, estrus, etc. Another check as they go out to pasture in the morning is done as well.

Having a small pen that they recognize as a feed area is also helpful when you need to doctor a sheep or check it for some reason.
 

jambi1214

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Thanks. Seems like I need to have the soil checked. We have 5 acres they go on (and they go to neighbors oops). I'll need to learn the nutrient requirements (and protein levels) to ensure it's sufficient. Great idea to mix the hay. Will be trying this week.
 
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