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Wet weather threatens washout of nutrition around lambing

With the weather breaking Met Office records for rainfall this winter, it’s hardly surprising that this is one of the main concerns for farmers at lambing time.

January alone was the fourth wettest on record in the UK since 1910, with 152% of average rainfall, and most of eastern Scotland and parts of north-east England had two to four times the normal rainfall.

There is very little farmers can do to change the weather, however David Thornton, Rumenco technical manager, highlights that through a proactive approach, you can plug nutritional deficiencies at this crucial time in the sheep calendar.

“Due to prolonged wet weather, dry matter (DM) seems to be extremely low in grazing this year, and with some flocks still to lamb, or in the middle of this busy time, this is a concern,” says David. “AHDB have recorded average DM of around 20%, but it has been recorded as low as 15.3% in Cornwall.

“This is important when considering DM is where all the nutrition in grazing comes from, as around 80% will just be water. Ewes’ nutritional requirements increase in the final trimester and immediately post lambing, so if they aren’t able to get their nutritional needs from grazing or forage alone, supplementation may be the best option.

“I would encourage farmers to get their forage tested, this way you can be sure you are able to meet nutritional gaps in a farm-specific manner. To ensure ewes aren’t left lacking in the run up and immediately following lambing, provide access to Lifeline Lamb and Ewe as it’s specifically formulated for this key time.”

With its bespoke formulation intended to help support ewes nutritionally, Lifeline Lamb and Ewe buckets have been shown in an independent study conducted by SRUC to increase ewe colostrum lgG levels by 25%.

“lgG antibodies are responsible for passive immunity. Nutritionally supporting ewes pre-lambing can ensure quality colostrum is provided, as if lambs don’t get the best start, they are at risk of disease from day one.”

When tackling unfavourable conditions it’s best to be proactive in managing nutritional needs to prevent wet weather resulting in a washout at lambing.