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:
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?
Critterhaven--Registered Barbados Blackbelly Hair Sheep
(no shear, no dock, no fuss)
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