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Healthy lambs will finish well this autumn

Checks to lamb growth rates and lost condition is costly and inefficient, so supporting lambs at grass now in order to protect their health and ensure continued good growth rates, will keep performance up this season.

David Thornton, Rumenco’s technical manager explains that an average daily liveweight gain (DLWG) of 200g is a reasonable target to expect to achieve in our prime lambs at this time of year. 

“To do this, lambs weighing 35kg need a metabolisable energy (ME) intake of 14MJ/day. To achieve this solely from grass, the available grazing must be able to supply 10.2MJ/kg dry matter, which many pastures will struggle to meet at the moment,” says Mr Thornton. 

“Worm burdens are also a concern for lambs at grass. Heavy infestations of internal parasites will result in poor performance and checks to growth rates. Any supplementary nutrition needs to support the existing on-farm control strategies,” explains Mr Thornton, “while also balancing any deficiencies in the available autumn grazing.”

Trials* undertaken at Aberystwyth University in 2014, to investigate the effect of supporting lambs with a supplement in their diet containing diatomaceous earth (DE), found that it had a positive effect on growth rates of lambs, general condition and dagginess.

The on-farm trial looked at the effects of DE when it was included in the supporting ration over a 10 week period. Two groups of lambs, one group receiving DE, and a control group, were weighed, condition scored and graded for dagginess, fortnightly. 

The lambs that received DE remained significantly cleaner than the control group, with less wet, dirty or scouring lambs in the group. They also had consistently better condition scores than the control group, with 95% of them scoring 4 or above, while in the control group, only 58% of the lambs scored at 4 or above. 

The trial concluded that, within a managed rotational grazing system, the group of lambs which received the DE in their supporting rations were better able to cope with intestinal worm burdens, compared to lambs in the control group. This was supported by representative mob faecal egg counts (FEC) which were carried out during the trial, which showed that the group of lambs receiving DE in their diet maintained predominantly lower FECs than the control group. 

CleanSweep, which includes DE, is formulated to also include the recommended levels of cobalt and selenium, to help lambs thrive and help avoid knock backs from worm burdens. 

“Cobalt and selenium are particularly important,” explains Mr Thornton, “cobalt is vital for the synthesis of vitamin B12, important for energy metabolism, and selenium is vital for immune function. 

“Even small improvements in lamb liveweights can lead to better returns this autumn,” says Mr Thornton, and in conjunction with improved condition and the resulting carcase quality, it can all have a positive impact on price per kilo for finished lamb this season.” 

*Natural Feeds and Fertilisers Ltd, Diature™ Feed Trial with weaned lambs 2014, Aberystwyth University.