Hi Joanne,

I give my ewes grain during lactation and gestation. Not a lot--perhaps 1 cup a day.

I graze the sheep on pasture grass from around mid-April to mid-October. I buy baled alfalfa hay during the summer to feed to my sheep during the winter. Generally in my location we get 3 to 4 cuttings of alfalfa. I try to keep enough in storage for the entire winter. I estimate about 9 bales of hay per sheep per winter. The ewes maintain weight on alfalfa hay; and I always have lambs eating it and they grow just as fast (which isn't very fast) as lambs on pasture grass. As I've said, I don't take weights on my ewe lambs and I only weigh my ram lambs when they have been slaughtered. But my data show that on average, my ram lambs get to 85-95 lb by 9 months regardless of when they were born and what they've eaten.

I can't help on your question regarding growth rate in the Northeast, but I'll email you privately with contact information for someone who can.

I don't worry about forage protein content on my grass or alfalfa hay. Most farmers around here have no idea what the protein count is on their hay. They can get top dollar for it without having that information. I've fed lush leafy alfalfa and stemmy alfalfa and old grass hay. One year I grew oat hay and baled it. BB sheep simply do well on whatever forage I give them. I think the better forages improve a sheep's overall health, resulting in fewer lambing issues, less sickness, and good worm load tolerance. In 16 years, I've had remarkably few problems with my BB sheep, and I attribute that to good food since that's about all I have to do for them.


At 03:43 PM 12/28/2014, you wrote:
Hi Carol,

To follow up on your success on grass only: Wow, so you are able to keep their condition up without grain during lactation too?

For your operation has it been possible (economically advantageous) to
stockpile forage for the non-growing months?
Do the BBs  gain weight on stock piled forage?
Do you know why (or can you suppose why)  there is a growth rate effect
related to season in the Northeast?

What is the method you use for determining forage protein content?

Carol Elkins
Critterhaven--Registered Barbados Blackbelly Hair Sheep
(no shear, no dock, no fuss)
Pueblo, Colorado

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