Requirements During Lactation
During the first few weeks following lambing, a lactating ewe requires about the same feed as in late gestation, provided she is nursing a single lamb. The requirements shown in table 3 are for a lactating ewe that is producing 3 pounds of milk per day.
If the lamb does not consume all the milk produced daily, the ewe produces less milk and uses any excess energy to store fat.
Ewes suckling twin lambs normally do not deposit fat because the nutrient supply (primarily energy) does not meet the requirements of the lactating ewe. For maximum rate and efficiency of lamb gains, separate ewes nursing twin lambs from those nursing singles and feed accordingly. It is practically impossible to provide high-producing ewes nursing twin lambs enough feed during lactation to prevent loss of body weight. From a practical standpoint, these ewes must have reserves of body fat to maintain high levels of milk production. It is imperative that high-producing ewes are of acceptable body condition prior to lambing.
Table 3. Daily nutrient requirements of sheep*
More information about noted topics can be found at the end of this page.
a To convert dry matter to an as-fed basis, divide dry matter values by the percentage of dry matter in the particular feed.
b One kilogram TDN (total digestible nutrients) = 4.4 Mcal DE (digestible energy); ME (metabolizable energy) = 82% of DE.
c Values are applicable for ewes in moderate condition. Fat ewes should be fed according to the next lower weight category and thin ewes at the next higher weight category. Once desired or moderate weight condition is attained, use that weight category through all production stages.
d Values in parentheses are for ewes suckling lambs the last 4 to 6 weeks of lactation.
e Lambs intended for breeding, thus, maximum weight gains and finish are of secondary importance.
f Maximum weight gains expected.