Lambing is about over at Bearwood for another year. This year has been challenging to say the least; 6 inches of snow and temperatures down to -13 degrees!
Even with these cold temperatures, ewes lambed with no problems and lambs were “licked off” and up and sucking quickly, testament to the easy lambing and good maternal instincts of the Lleyn and Blue Texel breed.
I lamb the flock on my own, with the help from my neighbour for a couple of hours on my busiest days. 200 (out of 220) ewes lambed in 16 days which allowed me to adopt all triplet lambs onto singles, thereby having no orphan lambs to feed. The use of teasers (vasectomised) rams in the autumn really “tightens up” the lambing period.
I have been using a block feeding system for the past couple of years and do not feed concentrates. 8 weeks prior to lambing I introduce Rumenco Super Energy plus Fish Oil blocks to the ewes and then change to Lifeline Lamb and Ewe blocks from 4 weeks. Once the ewe and lambs are turned out they are fed Rumenco Graze DUP blocks.
I find block feeding suits my system here at Bearwood for a number of reasons:
- Ease of management.
- Eliminates pushing and shunting that occurs when feeding concentrates prior to lambing which can lead to ewes loosing lambs early and proplapses.
- Eliminates over supply of milk at lambing due to over feeding. Lambs cannot “latch” on to large teats which can lead to lamb death and mastitis. I find that ewes milk to lambs demand on blocks.
- Eliminates young lambs loosing their mothers that can occur in the “cavalry charge” when you arrive at the field when concentrate feeding. With blocks, ewes and lambs are relaxed and it is easy to identify lambs that are not with their mothers and react accordingly.
- Concentrate feeding in the field is done once, possibly twice a day. With blocks ewes are able to obtain energy 24 hours a day and whenever they require it. This has been noticeable this year when we have had snow on the ground and very cold temperatures. Lambs have always had full bellies even when the weather has been dismal and I noticed that block consumption increased dramatically when snow was on the ground and ewes were unable to get to the grass.
- Lambs get the benefits of the blocks as they get older. I do not creep feed so when ewes milk supply starts to decrease and lambs begin to eat grass they get the benefit of the blocks also.
We now need some warm weather to make the grass grow and sunshine for the ewes and lambs.
Article on the simplified feeding system here at Bearwood published in March 2018 by Rumenco