Feed stuffs for sheep and lambs
Sheep Animal Feed Products
While forages are the most “natural” diet for sheep and lambs and usually the most economical, a sheep’s nutritional requirements can be met by feeding a variety of feedstuffs. The rumen can easily adapt to different feedstuffs, so long as it is given ample time to adjust.
Feedstuffs can substitute for one another so long as the sheep’s nutritional requirements are met, nutritional imbalances are not created, and the health of the rumen is not compromised. Feeding programs should take into account animal requirements, feedstuff availability, costs of nutrients, and labor.
Sheep Animal Feed Products Pasture, forbs, and browse
Pasture, range, forbs, and browse are usually the primary and most economical source of nutrients for sheep and lambs, and in many cases, all that sheep need to meet their nutritional requirements. For example, from the time a ewe weans her lambs through her first 15 weeks of pregnancy, forage will likely meet all her nutritional needs.
Pasture is high in energy, protein, and palatability when it is in a vegetative state. However, it can have a high moisture content when it is rapidly growing, and sometimes it can be difficult for high-producing animals to eat enough grass to meet their nutrient requirements. Vegetation with high moisture content can also cause sheep and lambs to have loose feces.
Hay Sheep Animal Feed Products
Hay is forage that has been mowed (cut) and cured (dried) for use as livestock feed. It is usually the primary source of nutrients for sheep during the winter months or dry season when most forage plants are not actively growing. Hay varies tremendously in quality, and while hay quality can be affected by plant species, quality is determined mostly by the maturity of the plants when they were harvested for hay.
Proper harvesting and storage is necessary to maintain nutritional quality of hay. Hay that is stored outside without cover deteriorates rapidly in quality. The only way to know the “true” nutritive value of hay is to have it analyzed at a forage testing laboratory.