Loose Lick Supplement and Lambs

Murray Long, Clear View Consultancy - Geoff Duddy, Sheep Solutions, Farmlink Research Ltd

Type: Research Paper
Knowledge level: Advanced

Farm Table says:

The results of this trial clearly indicated an economic benefit across all weight categories associated with the use of a supplement.  However, the decision on how to finish lambs is one that requires good economic evaluation.

Effect of Loose Lick Supplement on the Growth Rate of lambs Grazing on Lucerne

What is the problem?

The real value of mineral supplements in sheep and lamb production systems has long been questioned. Provision of mineral blocks or a loose lick supplement is often provided as an insurance against any possible mineral deficiencies for either sheep grazing on stubbles or ewes during pregnancy and lactation.

Apart from data generated by feed companies, there is limited information and still a question mark over the effectiveness of supplements in achieving higher growth rates.

What did the research involve?

188 white Suffolk cross lambs were drenched, inoculated, weighed and shorn before dividing them into 2 treatment groups and allocated on dryland lucerne pasture at Temora Agricultural Innovation Center (TAIC).

Particularly, there were thre weight categories:

  • Light Store (25-35 kg)
  • Light Trade (36-45 kg)
  • Trade (45-55 kg).

One of the groups was fed with a loose lick supplement (ad lib) while lamb weights and their fat scores were assessed regularly.

The supplement used was Fabstock™ Feedlot Mix that contained 34% salt, 2% molasses, 12% calcium, 1.6% magnesium, 3.1% sulphur, 1.2% phosphorus, and 0.25% potassium.

What were the key findings?

  • the lambs fed with a loose lick supplement attained higher growth rates within all weight categories. Moreover, the supplemented lambs settled faster in post-shearing/transporting then to the Lucerne and were less agitated at each weighing event even if the Lucerne stand quality dropped. Furthermore, the data indicated that as the feed value decreased and the heavier the lambs were in the control group, the greater the effect on weight gain except for the lighter lambs
  • n the supplement consumption, the intake did not increase as the Lucerne feed value decreased
  • he supplemented lambs, especially in the heavy trade lambs, had higher fat score evaluations than those of which are not. They finished the trial with an average of 2 mm more fat
  • the Lucerne pasture was ideally allowed for the option of cutting and baling for hay production. The options included lucerne hay, sell lambs without and after finishing on Lucerne, and feedlot lambs
  • supplemented lambs are escalated to higher price bracket for both heavy trade and light export because of their higher growth and fat score rate

Final comment

They concluded that the effect of supplements when grazing Lucerne pasture has a significant positive effect on weight gain across a range of weight categories in lambs.

The economics of using supplements was shown to be a significantly positive one however, the decision as whether to finish lambs or sell earlier as stores, always needs to be one that is fully investigated to evaluate whether justifiable gains can be realised.

Australia - Murray Long, Clear View Consultancy - Geoff Duddy, Sheep Solutions, Farmlink Research Ltd
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