Introduction to Sheep Feeding
Introduction to Sheep Feeding: – Well feeding management in sheep farming plays major role to become successful in the business. Feeding the sheep depends on age and other factors. Whether you are going for commercial dairy sheep farming or commercial meat sheep farming or commercial sheep wool farming, a proper and planed feeding management is necessary to gain good weight, yield higher milk and good amount of wool. Apart from this, one should be aware of what kind of green fodder (Legume, grass and tree) crops are suitable for sheep farming and schedule of feeding the sheep. In the following write-up, let us discuss more about feeding sheep at different stages.
Crops-Feed Suitable for Sheep: – The following fodder crops suitable for sheep.
- Grass Fodder Crops: Co F.S-29, Co.27, Co-2, Co-3 Co-4, Co-7, Co-10 and Maize (fodder corn).
- Legume Fodder Crops: Cowpea, Stylo, Hedge lucerne, and Desmanthus.
- Tree Fodder Crops: Glyricidia, Kodukapuli, Arasu, Subabul, Neem, Agathi, Vagai, Karuvel, Velvel and Seemaikaruvel.
- Concentrate Feed Ingredients: Wheat, Groundnut cake, Sorghum, Maize, and Broken rice.
Sheep Feeding Stages: The below are the different stages feeding in sheep cycle.
Sheep Feeding – Feeding of Sheep Kids: The following should be fed to sheep kids from zero to three months.
- The newly born sheep kids should be fed immediately with colostrum (the first secretion from the mammary glands after giving birth, rich in antibodies).
- Keep mother sheep and kid together for 3 days after birth for milk access.
- After 3 days period and up to weaning feed the sheep kids with milk 3 times daily (morning, afternoon and evening).
- At the age of 15 days, train the sheep kids to eat any green grass or brans (having good fiber).
- At the age of 30 days, sheep kids should be provided with creep feed (concentrate mixture).
Sheep Feeding – Colostrum (Milk from female mother immediately birth of kid) Feeding of Sheep Kids:
- Make sure to allow sheep kid to be with mother for the 3 to 4 days to get good amount of colostrum.
- Sheep kid’s mortality rate can be limited or controlled by feeding Colostrum feeding.
- You can even feed cow colostrum to sheep kid in case the female sheep delivered multiple kids and you think colostrum is not enough.
- Also You can provide colostrum @ 100 ml/kg live weight.
- You can preserve colostrum with 1-1.5% (volume / weight) propionic acid.
- In case of chemically treated colostrum, make sure to keep colostrum in cool place.
Sheep Feeding – Creep Feeding for Sheep Kids:
- Creep feeding can be started from 1 month 3 months old sheep kids.
- The reason for creep feeding is to provide more nutrients and micro-nutrients for fast growth of sheep kids.
- Usually each sheep kid is provided with 60 to 100 grams/sheep kid/day which contain about 25% of protein.
- Provide antibiotics like chlortetracycline by mixing @ 15 to 25 mg/kg of feed.
Sheep Feeding – Creep Feed Composition:
- Maize (Corn) = 40%
- Peanut (Ground nut) Cake = 30 %
- Wheat Bran = 10 %
- De-oiled Rice Bran = 13 %
- Molasses = 5%
- Mineral Mixture = 2%
- Salt = 1% (should be fortified with vitamins A, B2 and D3 and antibiotic feed supplements).
Sheep Feeding- Feeding Schedule for Sheep Kids (From Birth to 3 Months):
|Age of Sheep Kids||Parent Female Sheep or Cow milk (ml)||Creep Feed (In grams)||Forage or Green/day (grams)|
|1-3 days||Colostrum-300-330-ml, 3 feedings||N/A||N/A|
|4-14days||350-380 ml, 3 feedings||N/A||N/A|
|15-30 days||350-380 ml, 3 feedings||A little||A little|
|31-60 days||400-420 ml, 2 feedings||100-160||Optional|
|61-90 days||200-220 ml, 2 feedings||200-260||Optional|
Sheep Feeding for 3 Months to 1 Year of Age:
- It is recommended to graze the pasture at least 6 to 8 hours daily.
- Provide concentrate mixture (Supplemental feed) @ 100 – 200 grams/sheep/day with protein of 18 to 20%.
- Provide dry fodder during night times in summer and rainy days.
Sheep Feeding- Feeding in Adult Sheep:
- No need of supplemental concentrate mixture, if there is enough grazing pasture is available.
- If you don’t have an option for grazing the pasture, these adult sheep can be supplemented with concentrate mixture @ 200 to 350 grams/sheep/day depending up on the age, pregnancy and lactation.
- The concentrate mixture protein used in the adult sheep feed is about 12 to 13 %.
Sheep Feeding- Feeding in Non-Pregnant Sheep:
- There is no need of going for supplemental feed of concentrate mixture, if the availability of pasture is good enough.
- In case of poor grazing condition, feed the sheep with supplemental feed of 150 to 250 grams of concentrate mix/sheep/day.
Sheep Feeding – Feeding of Female Sheep (ewes) from Lamb-Weaning till Flushing:
- This is the least critical period with respect to nutrient/micro-nutrient requirements.
- Female Sheep (Ewes) can be maintained entirely on pasture conditions.
Sheep Feeding – Feeding in Pregnant Sheep during the First 4 Months of Pregnancy:
- Provide in good quality pasture at least for 5 hours a day in case of pregnant sheep.
- Their ration must be supplemented with available green fodder @ 5 to 6 kg/sheep/day.
Sheep Feeding – Feeding During the Last One Month of Pregnancy:
- This is very important stage to provide proper and quality feed, so during this period pregnant sheep should be allowed to feed on pasture for 5 hours/day.
- Apart from grazing, sheep should be fed with supplemental feed of concentrate mixture @ 300 to 350 grams/sheep/day.
- Their ration should be supplemented with any green fodder @ 7 to 8 kg per/sheep/day.
Sheep Feeding – Feeding of Female Sheep at Kidding Time:
- As kidding time approaches in pregnant sheep or immediately after kidding, the grain inputs should be reduced but good quality dry roughage is fed free choice to the female sheep.
- It is recommended to give light feed on the day of delivery, but allow plenty of clean and cool water.
- Soon after kidding the mother sheep must be given slightly warm water.
- After delivery of kid, the ration of the mother sheep may be gradually increased (give divided doses 6 to 7 times in a day).
- Laxative feeds should be provided in the ration during the first few days.
- A mixture of wheat bran and barely or oats or maize at 1:1 proportion is an excellent option.
Sheep Feeding – Feeding in Lactating Sheep for 75 Days after Kidding:
- 7 to 8 hours pasture grazing plus 10 kg of cultivated green fodder/sheep/day.
- Seven to eight hours pasture grazing + 500 grams of concentrate mixture/sheep/day.
- 7 to 8 hours pasture grazing + 800 grams of quality legume hay/sheep/day.
Sheep Feeding – Feeding Male Sheep (rams) for Breeding:
- Allow male sheep to graze with female sheep and under such conditions the male sheep will get the same ration as the female sheep.
- Where there are facilities for separate feeding of the male sheep, it should be given 1/2 kg of a concentrate mixture consisting of three parts oats or barley, one part maize and one part wheat/ male sheep/day.