Farm Table says:
What is the problem?
Early weaning (between 40 and 60 days of age for lambs) may be a strategy to increase productivity and enable ewes to have a greater period to rest and recover their body condition. The objective of this study was to evaluate the influence of early weaning and concentrate supplementation strategies on sward characteristics, forage chemical composition and productivity of lambs on Tifton-85 pastures.
What did the research involve?
The influence of early weaning and supplementation strategies were evaluated in four production systems on Tifton-85 pasture:
- Suckling lambs not supplemented until slaughter;
- Suckling lambs supplemented with concentrate in creep feeding until slaughter;
- Early-weaned lambs not supplemented until slaughter;
- Early-weaned lambs supplemented with concentrate until slaughter.
Structural, morphological and productive characteristics of pasture were measured.
The forage was chemically analyzed to estimate its composition.
Lambs average daily gain and productivity were calculated.
The research was carried out in Brazil, where the climate is temperate humid with temperate summer. 60 Suffolk lambs were used.
What were the key findings?
- Sward height, forage and morphological components mass were lower in systems without weaning.
- Forage production was higher in systems with supplementation.
- Higher levels of neutral and acid detergent fiber were observed in forage ingested by lambs in creep feeding and by weaned and unsupplemented lambs.
- Average daily gain was higher for lambs in creep feeding (275 g/d) and lower for the weaned and unsupplemented animals (57 g/d). Productivity was higher for weaned and supplemented lambs (21 kg lamb body weight, BW gain/ha/d).
- Lower productivity was observed in systems without supplementation (5 kg lamb BW gain/ha/d on average).
- Ewes modify the sward conditions improving the pasture characteristics and the quality of forage produced.
- Changes in sward conditions affect the chemical composition of forage ingested by lambs.
Maintaining the lambs with their dams is important in modifying the structural and morphological characteristics of the sward. The presence of ewes in lamb production systems is important to improving the qualitative components of the pasture. Concentrate supplementation allows for higher forage production on pasture. Concentrate supplementation should be used to increase lamb performance and productivity in grazing systems. If the objective is to improve lamb individual performance, creep feeding should be used.