3rd May 2022

By Calum Littlejohn, ECV Nutritionist

There is no denying that the costs of all inputs have risen dramatically in the last year for all farming enterprises including sheep flocks. Many farmers will be looking at ways to reduce costs and one of those ways may be reducing the amount of bought in concentrates but is this really cost effective?

An early lambing system will be aiming to get lambs away fat at around 12-14 weeks of age with the help of concentrates throughout. If the concentrates are reduced or taken away completely then this time scale could double if not triple with some lambs being kept until they are at least 12 months old. This in theory may be cost saving but for every extra week you keep those lambs they will be consuming more grass, silage, hay or some type of fodder. With fertiliser costs having at least doubled on the year along with other costs such as fuel, plastic and machinery, the costs of these forages have also increased dramatically. Creep feeding will allow you to get lambs off the farm quicker.  Less mouths to feed for a shorter period can only bring benefits. 

These benefits include:

· Freeing up more grassland for other classes of stock/forage production.

· A potential for reducing fertiliser requirements.

· Weaning earlier which gives ewes longer to recover condition.

One of the main things to consider when finishing lambs is the feed conversion ratio (FCR).   The FCR of the lamb is one of the factors that drives the profitability of your sheep enterprise. A lamb’s FCR is at its optimum when it is youngest and will start to decrease as it gets older. It costs more in terms of energy to maintain a lamb before it can gain weight. By feeding ECV Lamb Finisher Pellets, lambs could achieve an FCR of up to 4:1. Therefore every 4kg of feed that is fed equates to 1kg of liveweight gain.

Below is a table noting the effect that both price of feed and FCR has on the cost of a lamb to gain a kilo of liveweight.

With feeding costs higher, farmers need to make sure that whatever they are buying is of the highest   quality which may not necessarily mean being the cheapest. ECV Lamb Finisher is a 15% protein, high energy finishing feed. The Lamb Finisher contains high quality sources of protein such as hi pro soya and wheat distillers dark grains. Lamb Finisher also includes a full mineral package along with ammonium chloride to reduce the risk of urinary calculi.

At East Coast Viners, we have a team of nutritionists who are always available to help advise farmers on how to get the most out of their home-grown produce and animals. Whether it is creating rations, sampling silage, creating costings or just general   advice we strive to help our customers become more efficient and profitable.     

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