Feeding Sheep - Ewe Maintenance Rations - Frequently Asked Questions

 
 
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  • The maintenance period is when ewes are not pregnant or lactating. Body condition is being maintained without loss or gain. If ewes are too thin, rations need to be adjusted.
  • Sheep are ruminants. They are fairly adaptable and can utilize a wide variety of feeds. They are designed to eat forage (grass / hay / silage / greenfeed). The higher the level of concentrate (grains, supplements) in the ration the more carefully the rations must be managed. To avoid digestive upsets, feed grains whole. Introduce grain slowly, increase levels gradually over ten days to two weeks. When hand-feeding, feed no more than 1 to 1.5 pounds of grain per head at one feeding.
  • Mature ewes need at least 1.5 to 2 pounds of digestible forage to keep their rumens functioning well. Acidosis, bloat and founder are a risk on high concentrate rations.
  • A feed test can save you $100's of dollars in supplement costs and, more critically, save you from a lambing wreck if some nutrient is missing from the ration. With drought conditions plants are under stress, nutrient levels can be different and high levels of nitrates can be an issue.
  • Minerals
    • 18:18 is usually salt free, containing 1 part calcium to 1 part phosphorus; either a trace mineral (TM) sheep salt or loose blue salt needs to be fed
    • 16:16 usually contains salt with 1 part calcium to 1 part phosphorus and additional vitamin A levels in some brands. Nothing else needs to be fed with this product.
    • Grass hays, greenfeeds and straws have almost no calcium. A salt/limestone 50:50 mix must be fed to supply calcium.
  • Rations are given in weight of feed required per head per day.
  • Rations based on the requirements of average sized ewes - 175 lb.
  • Mineral and limestone/salt intake levels are based on free choice intake. When feeding a complete salt/mineral mix, don't supply any other sources of salt.
  • The rations provided below were developed as samples to be used as guidelines only. The sample rations are based on average feed analyses, not on your particular feeds or flock. For specific ration questions talk to your feed company nutritionist.
Sample Rations
Ration #1
lbs. / day
Ration #2
lbs. / day
Alfalfa hay
1.8
Grass hay
3.8
Barley straw
2.0
16:16 mineral
0.01
16:16 mineral
0.02
Ration #3
lbs. / day
Ration #4
lbs. / day
Barley silage
8.0
Oat greenfeed
3.8
Limestone
0.01
Limestone
0.01
Ration #5
lbs. / day
Ration #6
lbs. / day
Straw
2.2
Straw
2.75
Barley grain
1.0
Corn
0.5
32% supplement
0.3
32% supplement
0.5
.
Alberta Lamb Producers

For more information call the Ag-Info Centre at 310-FARM (3276)

Prepared by Susan Hosford, Business Development Specialist, Camrose and Dr Susan Markus, Ag-Info Centre, Stettler - Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development

 
 
 
 
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For more information about the content of this document, contact the Ag-Info Centre.
This information published to the web on June 9, 2004.
Last Reviewed/Revised on November 26, 2013.