Saturday, July 4, 2009

Feed is the single largest Expenditure with raising small ruminantsEstimated for 60% or more of total production costs. A balanced nutrition exerts a very large influence on flock reproduction, milk production, and lambs. Late-gestation and lactation are the most critical periods for ewe nutrition, with lactation placing the highest nutritional demands on ewes. Nutrition level largely determines growth rate in lambs . Lambs with higher growth potential have higher nutritional needs, especially with regards to protein. Animals receiving inadequate diets are more prone to disease and will fail to reach their genetic potential.

Sheep require energy, protein, vitamins, minerals, fiber, and water. Energy (calories) is usually the most limiting nutrient, whereas protein is the most expensive. Deficiencies, excesses, and imbalances of vitamins and minerals can limit animal performance and lead to various health problems. Fiber (bulk) is necessary to maintain a healthy rumen environment and prevent lactic indigestion though rarely encountered in grazing sheep and a frequent cause associated with laminitis and also to prevent digestive upsets. Water is the cheapest feed ingredient, yet most often neglected/overlooked.

Many factors affect the nutritional requirements of small ruminants: maintenance, growth, pregnancy, lactation, fiber production, activity, and environment. As a general rule of thumb, sheep will consume 2 to 4 percent of their body weight on a dry matter basis in feed. The exact percentage varies according to the size (weight) of the animal, with smaller animals needing a higher intake (percentage-wise) to maintain their weight. Maintenance requirements increase as the level of the animals' activity increases. For example, a sheep that has to travel a farther distance for feed and water will have a higher maintenance requirements than animals in a feed lot. Environmental conditions also affect maintenance requirements. In cold and severe weather, sheep require more feed to maintain body heat. The added stresses of pregnancy, lactation, and growth further increase nutrient requirements.

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Hay is the primary source of nutrients for small ruminants during the winter or non-grazing season. Hay varies tremendously in quality, and the only way to know the nutritional content is to have the hay analyzed by a forage testing laboratory. Hay tends to be a moderate source of protein and energy for sheep. Legume hays --alfalfa, clover, lespedeza -- tend to be higher in protein, vitamins and minerals, especially calcium, than grass hays. The energy, as well as protein content of hay depends upon the maturity of the forage when it was harvested for forage. Proper curing and storage is also necessary to maintain nutritional quality of hay.

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Silage made from forage or grain crops has been successfully fed to sheep; however, special attention must be paid to quality, as moldy silage can cause listeriosis or "circling disease" in small ruminants with the fungal toxins in high quality grain based /mixed silages an added risk of afflotoxins. As with fresh forage, the high-producing animal often cannot consume enough high moisture silage to meet its nutritional needs. Silage is typically fed on large farms, due to the need for storage and automated feeding equipment
It is oftentimes necessary to feed concentrates to provide the nutrients that forage alone cannot provide. This is particularly true in the case of high-producing animals. There are also times and situations where concentrates are a more economical source of nutrients. Creep feeding and supplemental feeding of lambs has been shown to increase growth weight, but should only be done to the extent that it increases profit.
There are two types of concentrate feeds: carbonaceous and proteinaceous. Carbonaceous concentrates or "energy" feeds tend to be low in protein (8-11%). They include the cereal grains --corn, wheat, oats,and ragi(finger millets). It is not necessary to process grains for sheep unless the animals are less than six weeks of age and lack a functioning rumen. One of the problems with feeding a lot of cereal grains is it can quickly cause lactic acidosis in sheep that have not been priorily sensitized to high energy diets and also the processing of these grains to semi powdered forms renders it very easily degradable to lactic acid formation.
Proteinaceous concentrates or "protein supplements" contain high levels of protein (>15%) and may be of animal or plant origin. They include soybean meal, cottonseed meal, and fish meal. Ruminant-derived meat and bone meal cannot (by law) be fed to other ruminants, including as sheep . Protein quantity is generally more important than protein quality (amino acid content) in ruminant livestock since the microorganisms in the rumen manufacture their own body protein. Livestock do not store excess protein; it is burned as energy or eliminated (as nitrogen) by the kidneys. Since parasites often cause blood loss in small ruminants, higher levels of protein in the diet may enable the animal to mount a greater immune response to parasites.
By-products feeds, such as fat, soy hulls, wheat middlings, and broiler litter may contain high levels of various nutrients and can be incorporated into small ruminant diets if they are cost effective. Due to its copper content, it is not recommended that sheep be fed broiler litter for sustained periods of time.
Many feed companies offer "complete" sheep -- pelleted or textured -- which are balanced for the needs of the animals in a particular production class. Pelleted rations have an advantage in that the animals cannot sort feed ingredients

Vitamins and minerals
Many minerals are required by small ruminants. The most important are salt, calcium, and phosphorus. Vitamins are need in small amounts. Small ruminants require vitamins A, D and E, whereas vitamin K and all the B vitamins are manufactured in the rumen.


kitty said...

dr ABBAS MAHMOOD,I would like have your contact number,as I am interested in starting sheep rearing or your adress ,pls do reply. KRISHNA

Dr. mahmood abbas said...

hi kitty you can call me up on 9902218805