Farm Table says:
Grazing alternative herbages in lactation increases the liveweight of both ewe lambs and their progeny at weaning
What is the problem?
Breeding ewe lambs is a management tool that can be used to increase farm profit. However, there are potential negative impacts on the liveweight of progeny at weaning and the liveweight of the ewe lamb at the following breeding.
The aim of this 2-year study was to examine the impact of offering ewe lambs either a traditional ryegrass and white clover pasture (Pasture), Herb-mix or Lucerne throughout the lambing period and in lactation.
What did the research involve?
The studies focused on Romney ewe lambs (average age at breeding of 8–9 months) and were conducted at Massey University’s Riverside farm, 10 km north of Masterton on the eastern coast of the North Island of New Zealand. The property is classed as summer dry (20% of the annual rainfall occurs over the summer months; NIWA 2014). These studies were approved by the Massey University Animal Ethics committee.
What were the key findings?
- During lactation in both years of the study, ewe lambs offered the Herb-mix or Lucerne treatments were heavier than those offered Pasture.
- In addition, progeny of ewe lambs offered the Herb-mix or Lucerne treatment were also heavier in lactation than those born onto ryegrass white clover.
- interestingly, in one of the 2 years, the ewes and their progeny on the Lucerne treatment were heavier in lactation than those in the Herb-mix treatment.
The results of these two studies indicated that offering ewe lambs either lucerne or herb mix containing chicory, plantain and red and white clover are effective for increasing the liveweight of both the ewe lamb and her progeny during lactation, in comparison to a ryegrass and white clover mix.