What Finishing Diet Should I Feed My Lambs?

There are many different ways to feed lambs to get them ready for market. Each has it’s own benefits, and choosing how to feed your lambs can be affected by geographical location, type of production system, marketing options, and cost and availability of feed. This decision of what finishing diet to use should also take into account what nutrition and supplements your lambs need. Different types of feed include grain mixes, pellets or pasture, however it is often best to use a mix of feed options to get the best results from your livestock.

The Nutritional Requirements of Lambs

  • Water: Proper hydration improves livestock growth, making water one of the most important nutrients to supply to your animals. Minerals in the water can also improve the uptake of other necessary nutrients.
  • Energy: Energy is necessary to help stimulate growth and movement. The best sources of energy to be included in a lamb finishing diet are carbohydrates and fats.
  • Protein: Protein is necessary to help promote growth and maintain healthy weight in lambs. A minimum of 7% crude protein is needed in a lamb’s diet.
  • Vitamins + Minerals: Vitamins and minerals are important to encourage high health. The major minerals needed in a lamb diet is phosphorous, sulphur and calcium. Necessary vitamins include vitamin A, B, D, and E.

Types of Lamb Feeds

There are several different feed options for finishing lambs – the most common being grain mixes, pellets and pasture. These all are beneficial but usually provide the best results when used in conjunction with each other.

Grain Mixes

Using grain mixes for finishing lambs has become a favored practice among many farmers, and for good reason. Grain mixes offer a wealth of benefits when it comes to efficiently and effectively finishing lambs for market. These specially formulated blends of grains, protein sources, and essential nutrients, provide a high-energy diet that promotes rapid weight gain and optimal muscle development. The controlled and balanced nature of grain mixes ensures that lambs receive the precise nutrients they need to achieve market weight quickly, allowing farmers to meet market demands. Grain mixes also offer flexibility in feeding strategies, as they can be easily combined with grazing or other feeding systems, depending on farm resources and environmental conditions. With grain mixes, farmers can be rest assured that their lambs are getting the best possible nutrition to thrive, leading to healthy and high-quality finished lambs.

Pellets

When it comes to efficiently finishing lambs for market, pellets have emerged as a game-changer in the world of livestock farming. Pelleted feeds offer a host of benefits that make them a popular choice among farmers seeking optimal results. These compressed feed forms are specially designed to provide a balanced and easily digestible diet for growing lambs. Pellets ensure that each lamb receives the same essential nutrients, promoting consistent growth and weight gain throughout the flock. The concentrated nature of pellets also allows for precise control over the lambs’ diet, ensuring they receive the necessary energy and protein to thrive during the critical finishing phase. With pellets, there’s less risk of selective feeding, meaning lambs consume a well-rounded diet. A downside of pellets is that feed quality is harder to gauge by visual inspection.

Pastures

Using pastures for finishing lambs is a time-honored and natural approach that has proven its worth over generations of livestock farming. Pasture-fed lambs have the opportunity to graze on a diverse array of grasses and forages, which translates to a rich and varied diet. Pasture-raised lambs also benefit from the exercise and freedom to roam, promoting strong muscle development and overall fitness. Pastures provide essential vitamins and minerals, and the fresh air and sunlight contribute to the lambs’ overall health and well-being. By using pasture finishing, farmers can reduce the reliance on costly feeds, and produce premium-quality lamb.

csg Lamb Finisher Blend

csg’s Lamb Finisher Blend is a grain-based feed, ideal for weaned lambs from around 3 months of age, or 15kg liveweight.

This high-protein blend contains a mix of cereal grains, oils, and includes a vitamin and mineral supplement pellet.

The vitamin and mineral pellet contains Acid Buf, which helps in providing buffering against lactic acidosis, and also contains a mix of vitamins, minerals and trace elements to maximise animal health.

Being a grain-based blend, it is recommended that this blend be introduced at smaller rate (0.25% of bodyweight per day), and then increased over 9-10 days to a rate of 1-2% of bodyweight per day per animal. It can be fed out in troughs or self-feeders (ensure slides on self-feeders are adjusted to regulate intake), and should be fed in conjunction with a fibre source such as cereal hay or straw.

Summary

Maintaining a nutritional, balanced diet is necessary for healthy livestock production, especially during the finishing stage. During this stage, lambs need to be provided with the correct uptake of nutrition, to help make them market-ready as fast as possible. This is often done by using a either pellet or grain-based feeds in conjunction with forage to meet all nutritional requirements.

References

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