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Thread: Managing Lambing Sheep With No Grass!

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    Managing Lambing Sheep With No Grass!

    Am I alone in wondering what to do with sheep that are now lambing and no sign of grass growth for the foreseeable future.
    we have enough silage/haylage to last another 3 weeks if we buy in poorer quality forage for the cattle.

    We are feeding some Ewe rolls but the feed mills are unable to supply enough in time now.
    i have managed to get a ton of high energy feed blocks but will need more.

    All of the singles are on straight silage.
    Those with twins that have lambed are struggling and because they are not normally fed they do not readily come to hard food.

    I appreciate our problems are small compared to those in the snow, but I fear things are going from bad to very serious in a short time.
    Any solutions welcomed, but I guess we are all in the same boat!

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    Re: Managing Lambing Sheep With No Grass!

    In the same boat here, but with a lot smaller numbers. Ewes are leaner than normal already (mostly CS 2-2.5) so can't drop any more or they won't milk at all. Due to start next week, I've given them their last fold of fodder beet today, with a view to shifting them to (bare) lambing paddocks at the weekend, which is far to close to lambing IMO, with a few already looking out for likely spots. I have just ordered some liquid feed, to give ad-lib with good'ish hay (glad I didn't sell that now). Mine would chase a snacker, but that would cause so any problems with mismothering.

    What a f*****g year!

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    Re: Managing Lambing Sheep With No Grass!

    I would usually sit back nice and smug at the moment with my clean grazing system allowing plenty of grass for all the lambers but alas it ain't so!

    Fields that have been shut up since last October have a short bite but it won't last more than 2 weeks and i don't even want tpo think about the new leys that i am meant to be turning lambing ewes onto in the very near future----my solution has been to offer hay to 2 flocks but none of my sheep have ever seen it before so i am stuggling to get any uptake----

    Grass will come when it comes and until then we will have to do what we can---on an upnote there is very slow growth on 1 valley farm but it better get a move on

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    Re: Managing Lambing Sheep With No Grass!

    Hello Neil, coincidentally was wondering about you today. Glad to hear you have not started yet.
    Effing year indeed.

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    Re: Managing Lambing Sheep With No Grass!

    Quote Originally Posted by David. View Post
    Hello Neil, coincidentally was wondering about you today. Glad to hear you have not started yet.
    Effing year indeed.
    Yes, lots of people say they wonder about me for some reason.....

    We have a few inches of snow over sodden ground, but aside from the lack of grass growth, it is just an inconvenience compared to a lot both locally, and up-country. Lots of reports of dead lambs in big numbers.

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    Senior Member Nithsdale Farmer's Avatar
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    Re: Managing Lambing Sheep With No Grass!

    Id put out Hi-energy buckets along with your hay/silage.

    Dont have much grass here, havnt done all winter really. But ewes have coped well - with only a very small number lambing without milk. Lack of grass really isnt a concern of mine asfter the week we have had (i think that should really be a crying 'smiley')
    If in doubt, yank it out!

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    Re: Managing Lambing Sheep With No Grass!

    Quote Originally Posted by Nithsdale Farmer View Post
    Id put out Hi-energy buckets along with your hay/silage.

    Dont have much grass here, havnt done all winter really. But ewes have coped well - with only a very small number lambing without milk. Lack of grass really isnt a concern of mine asfter the week we have had (i think that should really be a crying 'smiley')
    In common with the theme of thinking about other folk on here, for several days I have been wondering how you were getting on with your outdoor March lambing up there.

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    Re: Managing Lambing Sheep With No Grass!

    Frank,
    crack on! Get plenty blocks out to everything ASAP.A tons no damned use on your scale.You need a lorry load.some swedes scattered about the grass parks is probably the best thing you can do,but they might not be available.

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    Senior Member b slicker's Avatar
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    Re: Managing Lambing Sheep With No Grass!

    If you can get it and afford the horrendous price, beet pulp is an excellent source of energy and completely safe in large amounts.

    I know it's low in protein, but it's energy which keeps sheep alive.

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    Re: Managing Lambing Sheep With No Grass!

    Quote Originally Posted by b slicker View Post
    If you can get it and afford the horrendous price, beet pulp is an excellent source of energy and completely safe in large amounts.

    I know it's low in protein, but it's energy which keeps sheep alive.

    But how do you feed it, or any other conc, to sheep that have never seen it? And without unduly disturbing ewes lambing outside?

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    Re: Managing Lambing Sheep With No Grass!

    Quote Originally Posted by NeilO View Post
    In common with the theme of thinking about other folk on here, for several days I have been wondering how you were getting on with your outdoor March lambing up there.

    Thanks Neil. Iv no idea what iv lost - i fear counting what i have, and the ewes which have lambed and lost I appear to have all my ewes, and ewe hoggs though, so in some consolation i still have my flock. Unlike some worse off in Wales, Ireland and farther west of myself. Iv heard of a farm locally which has lost 400 ewes on their hill.

    Unfortionatley lambing outdoors your always gambling with the weather, and some years you get hit hard. BBC weather just said we are well on course for this being the coldest March since 1962. You can plan for bad weather - but not extreme like this. Last year was very good for us, and i got my lambs away early at good prices with minimal input costs so im confident itl even itself out over time.
    Im already looking to use this as much to my advantage as i can, planning how to take the flock forward. Hill ewes are lambing now and its going well.
    If in doubt, yank it out!

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    Re: Managing Lambing Sheep With No Grass!

    Quote Originally Posted by NeilO View Post
    But how do you feed it, or any other conc, to sheep that have never seen it? And without unduly disturbing ewes lambing outside?


    You dont. Concs fed to ewes outside which are lambing en-masse is madness IMO. Its causes far more trouble and work then is needed.
    If in doubt, yank it out!

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    Re: Managing Lambing Sheep With No Grass!

    How about what one Facebook user (an employee of Pets At Home allegedly) thinks of the situation:

    Compensation for farmers for the loss of stock due to the snow ... Are you having a f**king laugh??! If they cared so much about their stock they wud have got them in safe and sound when the snow started or at least fed them extra to keep them warm! Farmers are a pack of heartless wasters,the only thing they care about are their farm payments,they don't give two damms about those poor animals or their suffering!

    Nice - not. https://www.facebook.com/lydia.stevenson.94

    There have been no end of (often quite ripe) replies including this one direct to her employer:

    Emily ReevesPets at Home


    I am a student vet and a farmer and I was shocked to see multiple remarks made by an employee of yours stating that "Farmers are a pack of heartless wasters, the only thing they care about are their farm payments"; she also described farmers as "money hungry cruel feckers" and also made the ridiculous claim that farmers "regularly run over dogs obviously resulting in death and think little of it". She also makes the point that she looks after horses but can’t seem to distinguish between looking after horses which is an optional pastime and trying to get feed to 3000 sheep and find space for lambs so that they don’t die of hypothermia in the snow, which is the basis of our business which we rely heavily upon. If we want to be successful our stock must be kept in the best possible condition, obviously we are not going to neglect them! This woman is ignorant of the efforts that farmers make to put food on the plates of not only her but her family and friends’ plates.

    As a company that is involved with animals and therefore animal welfare, I don’t think this gives out a very good picture to the public. It definitely is not reflecting well on ‘Pets at Home’ as it has been shared by 124 people so far and all 124 comments have been very negative. I would suggest if you want to maintain a good image in the public eye something should be done to remove the highly offensive comments from facebook immediately and discipline the individual in question. Many thanks






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    Re: Managing Lambing Sheep With No Grass!

    How about molasses? About 40-45p per litre 22% pro for the milk and 13ME to keep them on their feet. Usually feed 1.5 - 1.75 litres per head per week (+silo) on run up to lambing using ball feeders (1 per 40) and will continue in the field after lambing until the grass grows. I should say this is recommended for singles but our twins haven't done too bad on it, maybe a few a bit under blessed in the milk dept.

    Should work out cheaper than concs. and could tow an IBC round and fill up but make sure you get a wide spout cos it doesn't run too well in the cold!

    Someone said it would rot their teeth out in three years and I wouldn't be surprised, is it true?

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    Re: Managing Lambing Sheep With No Grass!

    Quote Originally Posted by NeilO View Post
    But how do you feed it, or any other conc, to sheep that have never seen it? And without unduly disturbing ewes lambing outside?
    Someone on here a few years ago was going to throw out bags of beet pulp, put a small slit in the bag and just let them have it adlib. Cant remember if i heard it worked or not tho.

    We do have a little grass, fields have been shut since new year, but certainly not enough if this cold weather continues for much longer. Meantime im going to try and keep them on swedes for as long as i dare then try and spread the twins as far as possible. Singles packed in a small field with haylage etc and will lamb hoggs inside with the thins and triplets. If we get a heatwave in the next two weeks i will have to think again....

    Hope things are easing for those who were lambing in this last spell of weather.

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    Re: Managing Lambing Sheep With No Grass!

    Quote Originally Posted by milkloss View Post
    How about molasses? About 40-45p per litre 22% pro for the milk and 13ME to keep them on their feet. Usually feed 1.5 - 1.75 litres per head per week (+silo) on run up to lambing using ball feeders (1 per 40) and will continue in the field after lambing until the grass grows. I should say this is recommended for singles but our twins haven't done too bad on it, maybe a few a bit under blessed in the milk dept.

    Should work out cheaper than concs. and could tow an IBC round and fill up but make sure you get a wide spout cos it doesn't run too well in the cold!

    Someone said it would rot their teeth out in three years and I wouldn't be surprised, is it true?
    We used it for many years, but not for probably the last 10 (it was 22ppl then ). I'm picking a couple of IBC's up this afternoon and washing off my old ball feeders. I never noticed any rotting teeth when we used it before, perhaps the saliva ruminants produce protect the teeth against sweeties, better than humans?

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    Re: Managing Lambing Sheep With No Grass!

    Quote Originally Posted by Johnny400 View Post
    Meantime im going to try and keep them on swedes for as long as i dare then try and spread the twins as far as possible. Singles packed in a small field with haylage etc and will lamb hoggs inside with the thins and triplets. If we get a heatwave in the next two weeks i will have to think again....
    .
    I'm keeping them grazing beet for as long as I dare (Sat?), then stocking them more heavily than normal, in the most sheltered areas, and near to the buildings to make fetching in problems easier. I am aiming to drift out those that have lambed, so they at least have a 'bit' of picking to go at. Trips & thins are still separate at the moment, and getting fed concs. Hogs are separate and aiming to keep in their sheltered fields, although I suspect there might be plenty empty in their, from the way they started skipping about in a bit of sun the other day. Never got scanned as were away on tack, just teasers with raddles on that only marked 5 out of 190. I suspect they might have been sleeping, still, might be a blessing if this weather carries on.

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    Re: Managing Lambing Sheep With No Grass!

    Was getting desperate here due to most of land waterlogged and no grass growth. On one block of rented ground in Stewardship landlord put in derogation request to allow spring grazing of hay meadows.
    Got the approval back in less than an hour - top marks Natural England.

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    Re: Managing Lambing Sheep With No Grass!

    Frank, I have loads of fodder left, got about 50 (guess) bales of haylage, but it's not the best unfortunately, some soil contamination and mould due to it. Might do the cattle and leave the rest of yours for the sheep. Let me know if you're interested, it was a day from hay and the weather was breaking next day so wrapped it up to salvage something. It's kept the ewes going here well enough just got my fingers crossed about listeriosis now. They are milking well on it.
    If in doubt get a bigger hammer

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    Re: Managing Lambing Sheep With No Grass!

    With regards to molasses , how much do people think a ewe with twins would take per week ,thinking about it to feed twin ewes , would it help out with keeping them milking if they also have good hay ? Feeding conc to ewes with young lambs is just asking for trouble with mismothering , any info much appreciated.

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    Re: Managing Lambing Sheep With No Grass!

    Quote Originally Posted by Matt88 View Post
    With regards to molasses , how much do people think a ewe with twins would take per week ,thinking about it to feed twin ewes , would it help out with keeping them milking if they also have good hay ? Feeding conc to ewes with young lambs is just asking for trouble with mismothering , any info much appreciated.
    That depends what else is in it, especially the level of urea. They would drink straight molasses like I would drink strawberry milk shakes, but most liquid feeds also contain a level of urea to up the protein. Urea intake is self limiting (Kreb's cycle?) so higher levels of urea will led to lower intakes.

    The liquid I picked up from DB at Welshpool this afternoon is 18% protein (mostly from urea) and they reckon intakes will be 1-1.5 litres/ewe/week with ad-lib 'decent' hay. DB also do a higher protein liquid, with more urea, which would have lower intakes, but that would mean less sugar/energy going in.

  22. #22

    Re: Managing Lambing Sheep With No Grass!

    One problem people have encountered around here is that ewes with lambs at foot that are 3/6 weeks old and are outside being well fed are drying themselves off resulting in very poor looking lambs and some deaths.We have some that are on nearly a kilo of good ewe rolls plus add lib quality haylage that are doing it,the vet thinks it's some form of self preservation that would happen naturally in the wild.We have brought some of the culprits back in and bottling the worst ones but other folk/neighbours are less fortunate and simply don't have the space.Never seen the like of it before and hope with a little tlc it is reverseable.
    Although a worry it is nothing compared to the heartache ,anguish and frustration that some of our hill farmer's are experiencing right now,there are some real horror stories about.My thoughts are with them.

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    Re: Managing Lambing Sheep With No Grass!

    Quote Originally Posted by texelburger View Post
    One problem people have encountered around here is that ewes with lambs at foot that are 3/6 weeks old and are outside being well fed are drying themselves off resulting in very poor looking lambs and some deaths.We have some that are on nearly a kilo of good ewe rolls plus add lib quality haylage that are doing it,the vet thinks it's some form of self preservation that would happen naturally in the wild.We have brought some of the culprits back in and bottling the worst ones but other folk/neighbours are less fortunate and simply don't have the space.Never seen the like of it before and hope with a little tlc it is reverseable.
    Although a worry it is nothing compared to the heartache ,anguish and frustration that some of our hill farmer's are experiencing right now,there are some real horror stories about.My thoughts are with them.
    We had that problem in our December lambers, going dry at 3-4 weeks despite heavy feeding. It was heartbreaking watching good lambs starve whilst refusing to suck a teat. To avoid it happening with our Feb lambers, all but a handful were turned out with singles and the milk machine was kept busy. I can see it starting to happen again though, exacerbated by the cold & wet. They are now back in, along with the freshly weaned machine lambs, who will hopefully encourage them to a creep. Goes against the grain, but the plan now is to get them onto creep & weaned ASAP. Then they can go out as soon as the grass freshens, as it surely must one day.......

    I've had vet & nutritionist involved, and the conclusion we've come to is that it's last year's sh*te conditions of fluke/worms/poor, wet grass all coming home to roost. With ewe & lamb losses, empty ewes and lower prolificacy, we will be lucky to scrape 100% lambs reared/ewe to the ram in the pedigrees this year. It's a damned good job we didn't get hit by SBV, like a lot, as well.

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    Senior Member JohnGalway's Avatar
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    Re: Managing Lambing Sheep With No Grass!

    The word is that April is supposed to be a much better month. Whether it'll pan out that way or not is another thing.

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    Re: Managing Lambing Sheep With No Grass!

    Quote Originally Posted by texelburger View Post
    One problem people have encountered around here is that ewes with lambs at foot that are 3/6 weeks old and are outside being well fed are drying themselves off resulting in very poor looking lambs and some deaths.We have some that are on nearly a kilo of good ewe rolls plus add lib quality haylage that are doing it,the vet thinks it's some form of self preservation that would happen naturally in the wild.We have brought some of the culprits back in and bottling the worst ones but other folk/neighbours are less fortunate and simply don't have the space.Never seen the like of it before and hope with a little tlc it is reverseable.
    Although a worry it is nothing compared to the heartache ,anguish and frustration that some of our hill farmer's are experiencing right now,there are some real horror stories about.My thoughts are with them.
    e

    What condition were the ewes in pre lambing ? have a sort of feeling once a certain point of internal fat reserves are used up the ewe will dry off , despite what they are fed after lambing ,

    NeilO , surely the pre lambers will need some form of undegradable protien , urea is not the best for lambing and milk , mainly only used for breaking down forage fibre , i dont put it in a lactation mix , that and bit worried about young lambs eating ewe food and toxicity

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    Re: Managing Lambing Sheep With No Grass!

    Can you get some swedes / fodder beet or some liquid molasses?

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    Re: Managing Lambing Sheep With No Grass!

    Quote Originally Posted by andybk View Post
    NeilO , surely the pre lambers will need some form of undegradable protien , urea is not the best for lambing and milk , mainly only used for breaking down forage fibre , i dont put it in a lactation mix , that and bit worried about young lambs eating ewe food and toxicity
    The urea should help get more from the hay they'll having over lambing. Mine will also have a handful of 100 kg StokBloks dotted about. Hoping beyond hope, that the grass starts to give a little something before too long. I am having an about face, instead of set stocking and minimal disturbance over lambing, I will be stocking at 15/ac initially with feed in ring feeders, and drifting off as they lamb. Those that have lambed will have feed blocks an a lower stocking rate, until Spring arrives. Not ideal by any means, but needs must.

    Looks like we are starting early. Looked out his morning to find a quad & a triplet lambing, followed by a handful more in the other group. Only one of the quad lost so far, long may it continue (although I somehow doubt it).

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    Re: Managing Lambing Sheep With No Grass!

    Have managed to get more High Energy blocks, oddly the intake of haylage/silage has slowed down, there must be a little grass growth!
    The temperature is taking its toll on the weak twins though. I fear qlosses will continue to be relatively high.

    Foxes are not helping, they are hungry as well, despite having shot 7 in the last 3 days, they keep taking one of a pair even in daylight.

    No sign of the weather improvingl for another week.

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    Re: Managing Lambing Sheep With No Grass!

    Quote Originally Posted by Frank-the-Wool View Post
    Have managed to get more High Energy blocks, oddly the intake of haylage/silage has slowed down, there must be a little grass growth!
    The temperature is taking its toll on the weak twins though. I fear qlosses will continue to be relatively high.

    Foxes are not helping, they are hungry as well, despite having shot 7 in the last 3 days, they keep taking one of a pair even in daylight.

    No sign of the weather improvingl for another week.
    I would be carefull shooting foxes now, shoot the wrong one and big trouble.

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    Re: Managing Lambing Sheep With No Grass!

    I've been experimenting, putting Stockholm tar on the necks of all lambs born. I know there are three foxes about, but I've not heard of any of the neighbours been taken yet, and none of mine have gone yet, so nothing proven. Out tonight to see if I can account for a pair running together, not looking forward to it.

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