Farm Table says:
What is the problem?
In Brazil, consumers of sheep meat suffer consequences from the lack of organization in the production chain, which is not yet able to continuously supply the market with quality carcasses. Consequently, the commercialization of carcasses that are not originated from meat production systems routinely inserts products into the market which lack a quality standard.
Thus, defining, applying and confirming the efficacy of management practices focused on the breeding phase aimed at shortening the production cycle of sheep meat in Brazilian production systems are important, because of the possibility of enhancing sheep production in countries which have similar soil and climatic conditions to Brazil.
Therefore, they looked to highlight the main feeding strategies applied between birth and weaning for intensive production of lambs specialised for meat production. They also aimed to highlight the most efficient way to accelerate the arrival of lambs to the finishing phase; in fact, to intensify ovine meat production in tropical conditions.
What did the research involve?
This was a literature review of research performed on a lamb’s diet during the pre-weaning phase.
What were the key findings?
- Supplying palatable concentrate in creep-feeders from the first days of life promotes pre-stomach development and adapts the animal to a solid diet consumption; important processes for enhancing animal performance, since nutritional requirements, especially for energy, are high during this period and can only be met by milk for a short time.
- An early weaning technique can be adopted from 35 days old, when adequate nutritional support is provided. Unweaned lamb slaughtering combined with creep feeding and controlled feeding have superior effects to early abrupt weaning, probably by avoiding the adverse effects generated by post-weaning stress.
- The use of a milk replacer is seldom reported due to the difficulty in finding specific products for sheep and its high cost. Controlled suckling does not affect the performance of lambs.
Available literature on feeding lambs during the preweaning phase is scarce. However, interestingly, supplementation of early lambs is encourage as milk does not meet their high nutritional demand post eight days.