Finishing Store Lambs at Grass

When finishing lambs, it is important to achieve maximum growth rates with close attention on quality and quantity of feed. A high quality short, leafy grass (4-6 cm) is required to encourage these maximum growth rates of 1 kilogram per week, with store lambs grazing high quality grass and 0.5 kilogram of a 16% concentrate.

Careful attention should be directed towards the quality of protein included in a 16% concentrate – looking out in particular for the declaration of the ingredients in descending order. Straights such as beet pulp of maximum size 6mm can be offered to increase energy and to provide additional fibre in the diet.

Values of protein, energy, mineral inclusion and feeding rates should be read thoroughly and should match the quality of pasture or alternative forages supplied.

The aim is to increase lamb growth rate subsequently, reducing age at slaughter achieving greater profitability which will be dictated by quality of grass and on level of concentrates supplied. For mid-season lamb producers, it may not be financially economical to offer concentrates at grass.

There are many factors that influence lamb performance from pasture, including lamb birth weight, male lamb management and providing high quality digestible leafy grass.

Parasite control is also a very important factor to consider for the weaned lamb at grass to achieve greatest daily gain and superior performance. Prevention is better than cure and it is best practice to dose lambs every 4-6 weeks at grass to prevent build-up of worms in lambs.

A range of white drenches (Benzimidazole’s) or clear drenches (Levamisole) can be very effective in the control of gastro-intestinal, roundworms, tapeworms and to aid in the control of adult liver fluke. It is also important to bear in mind that legume forages have the tendency to control abomasal nematodes in finishing lambs.

In summary, when finishing lambs at grass, maintain high quality grass in front of growing lambs, and possibly offer supplementary feed in the form of concentrates or additional forages.

Anthelminthic control carried out frequently over the summer/autumn period is also an important factor.