As most sheep farmers will know, the one part of your body that starts to give you problems as you get older is your back and I am no exception.
In the past I have spent hours every winter filling bags with feed both morning and evening and forking out silage twice a day but I have been told by the experts that I need to find a way of easing the workload on my back if I want to be mobile in 15- 20 years time.
This autumn I am feeding Rumevite blocks to the ewes with only the triplets getting a small amount of concentrate 2 weeks before lambing. I have used the Super Energy + Fish Oil to date and will change to Lifeline Ewe and Lamb 4-6 weeks before lambing and then use Graze UDP for ewes and lambs when they are turned out after lambing. For the blocks to be a success the ewes must have access to good quality forage and for the past number of years I have really concentrated on making good quality round bale silage in the summer.
This is by no means cheaper than using only concentrate but the costs will hopefully be somewhere near especially in what I save in the usual osteopathic treatment costs post normal lambing!! Time will tell.
Bedding costs have been saved this year as it has been so dry. I normally house ewes just before Christmas (10 weeks pre lambing) but this year they will be housed 5-6 weeks before.
Due to not having a large number of ewes, bedding down and feeding silage to housed ewes is manual rather than mechanical so the reduced time the sheep are in the sheds is good news for my back! This year when the ewes are housed I will be feeding them whole bale silage in cradle feeders which they can eat ad-lib and it also saves me forking out silage twice a day; I’ll let the tractor do the heavy work.
I will be interesting to see how this new feeding regime works.