Feeding lambs? Don’t forget to put petrol in the tank!

Challenging harvest conditions means there are large on-farm stocks of feed grade barley and wheat. Value add nutrients to finish your lambs through summer and into autumn with CopRice Lamb Finisher, a complete ration for lambs being finished in a feedlot or grazing declining pastures.

Jonathon Nield
National Sales Manager – Ruminant

Challenging harvest conditions means there are large on-farm stocks of feed grade barley and wheat. It can be reasonably assumed that many producers will be looking to value-add to this grain by using it to finish lambs through summer and into autumn. This is quite justifiable, given the lamb market is strong and is going to remain so for the foreseeable future.

The fundamental problem is that downgraded grain simply does not have the sufficient energy to meet the requirements of fast growing lambs. Energy is the basic driving force that powers all bodily activities.

Carbohydrates are used by the rumen microbes as a direct source of energy. In turn, rumen microbes ferment carbohydrates to produce the volatile fatty acids that are absorbed and utilised by the animal as energy sources.

Energy absorbed directly from the diet is called Digestible Energy (DE). Some of this energy is lost in the production of body heat, urine and waste gases. The amount of remaining energy is called Metabolisable Energy (ME).

To maintain performance in fast growing lambs, rations need to contain at least 12 MJ ME/kg DM. It can be very challenging trying to achieve this level of energy density within a ration using downgraded cereal grains.  

If cereal grain has been downgraded to the point where it’s unsuitable for malting or milling, then it is not going to be a high performance ration required for finishing programs. It’s like using low octane petrol in your car.

The most obvious penalties for feeding downgrade  grain is reduced feed conversion efficiency and slower growth rates. This translates into more days on feed, which can be a major issue if you have a contract to supply a certain number of head to a processor on a particular day, and higher feeding costs.

Reduced performance, more days on feed, morbidity and mortality are incremental factors that eat into your profit. At the very least, producers should include a quality concentrate to optimise the growth and performance of lambs.

CopRice VitaMinBuf concentrate pellets are the easy way to balance grain-based rations. These premium concentrates contain a balanced source of quality vegetable proteins, macro minerals, trace elements and vitamins and other ingredients carefully selected for their ability to optimise the health, growth and development of intensively-fed lambs.

They include a rumen buffer and yeast culture help maintain healthy rumen function, improve digestion and reduce the risk of acidosis; anionic salts to minimise the risk of urinary calculi; and the scientifically-proven rumen modifier, lasalocid sodium (Bovatec®).

VitaMinBuf concentrate pellets are available in bags, bulk bags or bulk via your preferred rural supplies outlet. Add 50 kg of VitaMinBuf per 950 kg of grain to make one tonne of complete feed.

Secondly, producers should consider diluting  downgrade grain with other high quality  energy sources, such as BAR1 or ASW,  in order to maintain sufficient energy density in the ration.

Alternatively, CopRice can prepare a tailored concentrate that provides an additional source of energy, as well as vitamins, minerals and other nutrients, based on the tested quality of your grain.

The ideal solution, always, is to complete ration that has been specifically formulated for finishing lambs. If you are trying to optimise the performance of your sheep, then you need to use a performance ration, such as CopRice Lamb Finisher.

CopRice Lamb Finisher is a complete ration for lambs being finished in a feedlot or grazing declining pastures. It contains a balanced source of protein (16%) and energy (12 MJ/kg), minerals, vitamins, anionic salts, rumen buffers, a yeast culture and a rumen modifier. Lamb Finisher is available in bulker bags or bulk, with delivery direct from your nearest CopRice mill.

CopRice offers an extensive range of complete and partial blends, concentrates and pellets to suit all feeding objectives. Each ration is scientifically-formulated to match the exact nutritional requirements of sheep at different stages of the production cycle and season.

They contain carefully-selected Australian-grown grains, legumes, nutrients and other quality ingredients. Our state-of-the-art manufacturing facilities and world-class quality assurance standards mean you can be confident of the nutritional quality and consistency of every load. All CopRice rations are supported by qualified nutritionists and advisors.

Contact CopRice today and find out how our expert team of nutritionists and advisors can help meet the nutritional requirements of your flock.

Jonathon Nield has more than 15 years’ experience in livestock nutrition and animal health. Raised on a family farm in western NSW, Jonathan conducts his own lamb breeding and finishing enterprise in southern NSW. He holds a Bachelor of Agricultural Science degree from the University of La Trobe and is a member by exam of the Australian Association of Ruminant Nutrition.  
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