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Livestock

From the Pastures — Mau: Focused on feeding

Arrowsmith, Ill.

Welcome to Muddy March. I received about 3-plus inches of snow on March 14, and by today, March 16, it’s almost all gone, replaced by the mud. The grass is growing, though, and my sheep and I are itching to start grazing, but we have to be patient. The grass has to get some height on it first, and the ground needs to firm up more. On March 9, I moved the flock off of this year’s cornfield and put them in my permanent grass-pasture sacrifice lot until I can start grazing. I’m hoping this will make it easier to get the planter in the ground this spring because I think I had compaction last year along with everything else that went wrong.

On March 10, I pregnancy checked 126 ewes and ewe lambs. As I ran them through the chutes I weighed and body scored them also. It’s been 38 days since I started supplementing their poor hay and I wanted to see if they were improving. The skinny group received a cracked corn, protein pellet and soybean meal mixed feed that had about 4% fat in the ration. I worked them up to 1.5 pounds per head per day and they have put on an average of 18 pounds per head and have improved their body scores over those 38 days. Now their average body score is 3.0 and that is where it should be at this time in their pregnancy.

The other larger group that had started out in better body condition and body score has gained about 11 pounds in that 38 days while maintaining an average of 3.0 body score. They are fed straight soy hull pellets at 1 pound per head per day. So, those two feeding programs have achieved the desired results, but what about the number of lambs conceived? I was not optimistic. However, after analyzing the preg-checking results, I have close to a 200% conception rate, which really surprised me. Now the job is to get them born in the month of May.

Have a good Easter and try to stay positive. Hopefully, it will be drier than last year.

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