Feeding lactating ewes
Lactating ewes need more energy than pregnant ewes, but not more protein. Energy contributes to high milk yield and quality whilst minimising loss in body condition.
Underfeeding energy in lactation triples the risk of mastitis.
Lambs are very dependent on their mothers for the first 6 weeks because their rumen is not fully formed. They are also dependent on their mothers for longer if there has been plenty of milk, so for flocks where ewes are given supplementary feed it is important to plan when and how the feed is reduced.
Analyse feeds to ensure energy requirements are met at all times. Considerable thought needs to be put into how lactating ewes are going to be fed:
- Is there grass growth at lambing, if not, is there an alternative feed available.
- How and when is supplementary feed going to be reduced, ewes peak need for energy is at weeks 4 – 6 of lactation so stopping supplementary feed at this point is likely to lead to a sudden drop in milk production and hungry lambs that will damage the udder and cause mastitis.