SLU news

Thesis on forage feeding in intensive lamb production

Published: 26 August 2014

Carl Helander has studied feeding strategies in intensive lamb production. He argues that also an organic producer with less intensive production can benefit from the results and reasoning in the thesis.

Cheep are selective grazers, which means they are good at choosing which parts of the feed they prefer. Therefore it is important to study how to mix the feed. Sheep are very adaptable and capable in principle of living on only roughage or just concentrate and everything in between.

By studying the effects of chopping silage, by mixing it with concentrated feed and nourish the different types of feed to both heavily pregnant and lactating ewes that lambed in the spring and their lambs, Carl has developed recommendations for how roughage should be fed.

Improved feed intake and body condition
In his doctoral thesis “Forage Feeding in Intensive Lamb Production – Intake and Performance in Ewes and Lambs”, which was presented in June 2014 Carl Helander shows that feeding hacked, early harvested grass silage mixed with concentrate improves feed intake and body condition of the ewes and the growth of their lambs.

Eating time decreases and rumination time increases when the silage is chopped and the ewes sort out less feed. Early harvested silage also enables the amount of concentrate to be reduced. In addition, maize silage can be fed as the only roughage, or mixed with grass silage in a complete feed mixture, to the lambs.

The protein content is the main factor
The studies also showed that the lamb sort out high fiber content and that the protein content in the diet is the most important factor for a good growth.