In order to optimize production and efficient use of available
forage, we match production requirements with appropriate forage quality. For example, we manage our grasslands to provide
the best possible forage stands for ewes during late pregnancy and lactation while placing our ewes in early to mid pregnancy
on lower quality (i.e. more mature) pasture. The same rationale holds for preserved forage with the best baleage reserved
for animals with highest production requirements (late pregnancy, lactation, post weaning growth phase).
indoors receive a supplementary grain mix during approx. the last 30 days of pregnancy and throughout lactation. The amount
of grain mix fed depends on forage quality, ewe condition, and number of lambs that are being raised. For example, ewes nursing
a single lamb on excellent baleage may receive only a half pound of grain whereas ewes raising triplets or quads may receive
3 lbs of grain. The grain mix is fairly simple consisting of ground corn, soyhulls, and soybean meal and tests out at approx.
16% crude protein.
Lambs reared indoors are allowed access to the same grain mixture used to supplement the ewes
in a creep feeding area that is fed in large, homemade self feeders. Lambs begin consuming this mix around 2 weeks of age
and we achieve pre weaning growth rates averaging 0.81 lbs over all birth types between 40-60 days of age on this management
system. We find that by 60 days of age on this system, most of the growth deficit observed early in life in triplet lambs
for example is no longer evident so that it is hard to tell the triplet versus single lambs apart (see performance data).
This compensatory growth is important for our major market which requires a well-conditioned milk fed lamb in the 35-60 lb
Our pasture raised lambs born in late May and early June are typically weaning at 70-90 days of age, dewormed
at weaning and again 14 days later and then put on clean, non-grazed hay land following the second cutting of forage. We supplement
these lambs with 1-2 lbs of grain per day until they are marketed at 70-90 lbs. Many of these lambs are sired by a large,
mature size Suffolk ram which provides an excellent growthy yet lean product for the Halal market. Some of these lambs are
in the correct weight range at or just shortly after weaning while other, more slowly growing lambs require grain feeding
for a few weeks to reach the target market weight.