Feedlotting lambs

NSW DPI - Geoff Duddy and Chris Shands, Alan Bell, Dr Roger Hegarty, Geoff Casburn

Type: PDF
Knowledge level: Intermediate

Farm Table says:

"Jam-packed information source if considering feedlotting lambs. An example budget is provided for assessing the viability of opportunity feedlotting, beginning with a 35kg store lamb. Super useful, easy to use findings and recommendations to help build and assess the viability of a feedlot are provided: Did you know, on average it will take an estimated 60kg of feed to obtain a 10kg liveweight gain in a 35kg store lamb? Or around 2000L of water is needed for 500 lambs daily? A table of the average energy and protein content of various feeds is provided. An example then shows how to calculate the energy and protein content of a mixed ration."

This DPI Fact sheet was prepared by sheep specialists in 2016.

It covers the following:

What is feedlotting?

  • A management practice to achieve a consistent supply of quality lamb that meets market specifications for weight and fat score.

Why is it used?

  • It allows producers to 1) maintain production when pasture availability is low 2) achieve rapid growth when feed prices are low 3) generate cash flow 4) values-add ration components.

The authors remind us that the options must be carefully considered by looking at:

  • Viability of different options (selling lambs as stores, maintenance until feed is available, agistment, contract feeding)
  • Careful financial analysis that determines price margin and feed cost (most lambs require 10-14kg of feed to produce 2kg of liveweight).
  • Financial risk associated with deaths, non-feeders, poor growth and price changes.

A 14-day introductory period will see lambs consume approximately 15-20kg of feed with little liveweight gain.
During the finishing phase, an average feed conversion of 6 to 1 is assumed.

In NSW, a development application must be submitted if more than 4,000 head on feed or if located on environmentally sensitive site and include:

  • Provide each lamb with minimum of 5 square meters of yards pace.
  • Area should not be large enough to allow green pick growth.
  • Preferred lot size is 300-400 lambs.
  • Reduced water intake leads to reduced feed intake.
  • Water troughs at opportunist end to hay racks and feeders, raised at a minimum of 40cm.
  • Average water requirements is approximately2.5 x feed intake (3-4L a day – 2000L of water needed daily for 500 lambs).
  • Allows 15-30cm trough space for lamb (i.e. 300 lambs need 45m if can access from both sides)
  • Allow 3-5cm of access per lamb to self feeder (i.e. 300 lambs need 9-15m of feeder space)

Other points made include:

  • Economic success  is more likely with crossbred lambs
  • Grains usually comprise 65-85% of finishing ration.
  • Lambs need 9-15m of feeder space
2016 - Australia - NSW DPI - Geoff Duddy and Chris Shands, Alan Bell, Dr Roger Hegarty, Geoff Casburn
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