Filling ewe nutrient gaps pre-lambing “cuts neonatal mortality by 7.5%

Independent trial work by SAC has revealed a range of health and productivity benefits for flocks that were fed a combination feed and mineral bucket supplement in the final six weeks of pregnancy.

Colostrum quality, milk production, ewe hoof and udder condition, mothering ability and lamb mortality rates all improved in flocks fed Lifeline Lamb & Ewe, according to on farm trial data.

Providing a combination feed and mineral bucket supplement in the final six weeks leading up to lambing will make a significant impact on a flock’s short and long-term health and performance by filling critical nutrient gaps, researchers say.

Feeding Lifeline Lamb & Ewe pre-lambing was found to increase colostrum immunoglobulin IgG content by 25% more than a standard energy bucket. IgG content is an important measure of colostrum quality that infers passive immunity of antibodies from the ewe to newborn lambs to fight off bacterial and viral infections.

Furthermore, in a farm trial, feeding Lifeline Lamb & Ewe with Zinpro Availa Zn was found to reduce neonatal mortality rates by 7.5%.

According to Dr Alison Bond, nutritionist for Rumenco, this increase in IgG was influenced by balanced energy, protein, minerals, vitamins and trace elements formulated in the lick bucket.

“In the last six weeks of pregnancy, over 70% of foetal growth occurs. For context, a lamb weighing 4.5kg at birth only weighs 800g in the eight weeks before being born. It has a huge amount of growth and development to do in a very short space of time to get to a lamb ready for birth,” explains Dr Bond.

“This puts a lot of stress on the ewe and pulls large amounts of nutrients from her diet and therefore increases her requirements for energy and protein – doubling for those carrying twins.”

During this time, ewes are under a lot of stress as large amounts of nutrients from their diet are partitioned to rapid foetal development and colostrum production – increasing their protein and energy requirements and doubling them when carrying twins.

This high energy demand remains postpartum as 38% of milk production occurs during the first four weeks of lactation.

“Lifeline Lamb & Ewe provides ewes with 13MJ ME/Kg DM to fill those high energy requirements. It also contains quality sources of by-pass protein to ensure protein makes it through the rumen to support colostrum quality, milk yield and udder development,” says Dr Bond. “A balance of calcium helps protect ewes from hypocalcemia and the inclusion of key trace elements, vitamins and minerals support lamb development, ewe and lamb immunity and lamb vigour.”

Supporting ewe and lamb health and performance 

Lifeline Lamb & Ewe now includes Zinpro Availa Zn, a highly available, organic zinc that is proven to support the lifetime performance of both ewes and lambs.

“Compared to typical inorganic trace mineral sources found in feed supplements, Zinpro Availa Zn is far more metabolically available, leading to greater absorption in the small intestine – therefore increasing utilisation,” explains Dr Bond.

When fed to ewes in late pregnancy, Zinpro Availa Zn has been shown to increase dry matter intake, early lactation milk yields and improve mothering ability. It has also had a significant impact on hoof condition, with ewes fed Zinpro Availa Zn for 60 days over the lambing period to have a 43% decrease in foot lesions compared to ewes not supplemented.

Zinpro Availa Zn also has a positive impact on future lamb performance. Along with reducing neonatal mortality rates by 7.5%, the protected zinc contributed to gut development in lambs which led to increased diet utilisation and increased growth rates.

“The more research that is done, the more we are understanding how significant of an impact ewe nutrition throughout pregnancy has not only on her health and long-term performance but the lifetime health and performance of her lambs,” concludes Dr Bond. “Providing a specialised pre-lambing feed and mineral bucket like Lifeline Lamb & Ewe is a simple way to set a flock up for a successful lifetime.”

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