Sheep nutrition

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In many situations poor animal performance is attributed to a mineral deficiency, when in fact it is due to something else. Under normal grazing situations minerals most likely to be deficient are salt sodium chloride and phosphorus. Selenium has been shown to be deficient in certain areas of Montana and the U.

Trace mineralized salt is usually fed to sheep free choice.


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However, care should be taken to be sure that the trace mineral mixtures are specifically developed for sheep and do not contain the high levels of copper commonly found in beef, dairy, swine and poultry trace mineral mixes. The minerals that are normally provided in sufficient amounts in natural feedstuffs include K, Mg, Fe, Cu and Mn. It is important to note that trace mineral salt does not usually supply phosphorus.

Salt: Salt serves many functions in the body. When deprived of salt, sheep will consume less feed and water. As a general rule, sheep producers should provide supplemental salt to their sheep.

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Salt is generally fed to ewes at the level of. It can be fed "free choice" or added to the feed mix. However, grains are somewhat deficient in calcium and thus supplementation is often beneficial when sheep consume diets that consist primarily of grains or corn silage. Mature pasture and range forage is often deficient in phosphorus.

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Grains, however, are relatively high in phosphorus content. The most desirable way to supply additional phosphorus, when needed, is by adding it directly to the feed mix. This, however, is not always practical or feasible. The ratio between calcium and phosphorus must be considered when balancing sheep rations. Although ratios of 5 or 6 to 1 calcium to phosphorus seem satisfactory, a ratio of is ideal for most sheep rations. Feedlot lambs or growing rams fed diets high in grain are prone to urinary calculi.

Learning About Sheep Nutrition

In these situations the incidence of urinary calculi can be reduced by raising the calcium to phosphorus ratio to 3 or 4 to 1. In most cases, sheep can meet or exceed their dietary requirements for copper from normal feeds and thus do not require additional copper. Sheep are more susceptible to copper toxicity problems than most other livestock species. Errors in feed mixing frequently result in death due to copper toxicity. Copper requirements of sheep are dependent on dietary and genetic factors and, therefore it is almost impossible to develop a set of well defined requirements.

In fact, it has been shown that dietary amounts of copper that are adequate in one situation may be deficient in another and possibly toxic in a third situation. Concentration of molybdenum is a major dietary factor affecting the ewes copper requirement. Molybdenum forms an insoluble complex with copper which reduces its absorption thus increasing the dietary levels needed to meet requirements.

Also Merino breeds of sheep generally are less efficient in absorbing copper from feedstuffs than British breeds of sheep.

Student sheep nutrition research

It should be stressed that these are just guidelines and may vary drastically from situation to situation. When selecting a trace mineral mix for sheep, it is generally recommended to choose one that contains no or minimal copper. Mineral mixes providing over 4 mg of copper per ewe per day should be avoided. Selenium: In sheep there is a very narrow range between the amount of selenium that is required in the diet and that which will be toxic. Diets containing less than. White Muscle Disease in lambs results from a deficiency of selenium and possibly vitamin E.

Nutrition — Unlocking the Perfect Sheep

A marginal deficiency in selenium can result in reduced reproductive performance and increased lamb mortality. This deficiency can be prevented by giving injections of a commercial product containing both selenium and vitamin E. Selenium and or vitamin E can also be added to the entire ration, supplement or salt-mineral mix of sheep. Probably the most practical and effective way of supplying selenium to sheep is by feeding a salt-mineral mix containing selenium.

There are many excellent ones on the market. Do not try to mix your own.

Different nutritional needs of sheep

There may be some instances in sheep nutrition where, "If a little is good, a lot is better. Mature sheep require all of the fat-soluble vitamins: A, D, E and K. They usually do not require the B vitamins since these are synthesized in the rumen. Each participant monitors a mob of their own ewes to demonstrate the effects of nutrition and management in their environment.

Energy requirements of sheep

Participants weaned 30 per cent more lambs per hectare, as a result of a 15 per cent increase in ewe stocking rate, a 50 per cent reduction in ewe mortality and a 15 per cent increase in weaning rates. The FOO digital gallery has been built across a wide range of production zones, including cool climate, Mediterranean and pastoral species.

Sheep Nutrition

The popular LTEM course has an iPhone Application, putting millions of dollars of research and extension into the palm of woolgrower's hands. The development gives producers a mobile decision making tool to optimise the energy requirements of their flock.


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Whilst not a replacement for the on farm course, the App is a digital extension of it and requires the essential skills of the course such as condition scoring of animals and accurate Feed On Offer FOO assessments. Within the App there are various tutorials taking users through the various functions it contains. Please wait There are no items in your cart. Share on facebook Share on twitter Share on email. The course focuses on practice change in key areas: Weaning and preparing ewes for next year's joining.

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