Feeding of Preweaned Lambs from Birth to 90 days Age.
Sheep are superior to goats in their growth rate as young animas. The birth weights of lambs and kids are nearly the same, in the range between 2-3 kg. The development of lambs in the first four months is faster than the kids. Doubling and tripling of the birth weights is reached much earlier in lambs than by kids. The most critical period in the life of a lamb is during the first 48 hours. if a lamb is unable to nurse within half an hour after birth, it should be assisted to suckle to get the advantages of colostrums.
Creep feeding: The creep is a small enclosure in a sheep pen having opening just wide enough for lambs to pass in, while the ewes are kept back. The practice of providing supplemental feed to nursing lambs is according to appetite from 10 days of age to weaning at 90 days to promote growth during early age and rumen development. The amount of creep feed consumed is inversely proportional to the ewe’s milk production.
Feeding Schedule: Nellore brown lambs were allowed suckling thrice a day up to one month and thereafter twice a day. Creep feed was fed from 10th day onwards while sunnhemp hay (coarse ground) was fed from 15th day onwards. Feeding was continued up to 90 days age i.e. waning.
Composition of creep feed: Maize 40, groundnut cake 30, wheat bran 10 deoiled rice bran 13, molasses, 5, mineral mixture 2 and salt one per cent fortified with vitamins A, B2 and D3 and antibiotic feed supplement DCP is 17.4% and TDN is 73%. The performance of lambs is as follows.
Average weight at weaning = 14kg
Average daily gain = 130g
Total creep feed consumed = 12.7kg/lamb/day
Sunnhemp hay consumed = 3.5kg/lamb/day
Feeding of growing : Finishing Lambs from Weaning to Slaughter
Extensive system of rearing will not meet the requirement of the growing-finishing ram lambs. Hence ram lambs should be given a concentrate mixture to supplement the nutrients obtained through grazing. Native breeds such as Nellore, Madras red, etc. and their crosses need to be raised under semi-intensive/intensive system of rearing to exploit their genetic potential.