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Sheep breeding brings the farmer large amounts of meat, wool, milk, but on condition of high-quality livestock feeding. Having figured out what rams and sheep eat according to the seasons of the year, the livestock breeder achieves the maximum productivity of the livestock by adjusting the diet. Sheep is characterized by omnivorousness in the choice of plant foods, and the health and well-being of animals directly depend on the diversity and balance of the diet.
What do the sheep eat
Sheep food is chosen taking into account not only the season of the year, but also the sex, age, and purpose of the animals. The quality of livestock feeding is determined by the climatic region, the most profitable is pasture sheep breeding in tropical and subtropical areas, it requires minimal feed costs.
The diet should be balanced. When sheep eat grass, hay, vegetables, grain, vitamin and mineral supplements, they receive a sufficient amount of nutrients required for the full development of the body, increasing body weight. Supplements are especially important during the winter months when animals are not eating enough succulent plant foods.
Succulent plant foods
In warmer months, sheep eat grass in the pasture, the proportion of fresh greenery reaches 85% of the total feed volume. The best plant food for livestock is meadow grasses (clover, dandelion, sweet clover, wheat grass, plantain). If a sheep in a pasture eats grass with thorns, then you should not worry: weed thorns are no less useful for the sheep's body. The main thing a farmer should do is to check for poisonous vegetation in the meadow. Toxic to sheep:
- lily of the valley;
Animals should not be allowed to eat wet, dewy grass. It provokes scar swelling and flatulence; in the absence of surgical treatment, the sheep dies. It is useful to drive livestock to pasture with woody vegetation. Sheep willingly eat thin twigs and shoots, rich in vitamins and minerals, which has a positive effect on the growth of body weight and the quality of the coat. In the absence of pastures with woody vegetation, branches can be harvested in another place, tied into brooms, and dried.
The branches are useful for animals:
One of the cheapest and most popular varieties of succulent feed is silage. They do it by fermenting the vegetative parts of herbaceous plants:
- forage grasses;
- waste garden greens, carrot and beet tops;
- lettuce and cabbage leaves;
- meadow grasses, leguminous siderates.
An adult animal eats up to 4 kg of silage per day. When fermenting, acids are released, the sheep may not like the sour taste of the treat. To avoid this, either the plants are pre-dried or ground straw is added to the mass. Periodically, sheep are treated to wheat, barley, corn grains in small quantities.
The main roughage is hay. It is harvested in the summer, counting on 3 kg per adult. The best option is meadow grasses. Straw is less important, contains few nutrients, animals eat it in order to quickly satisfy hunger and normalize digestion.
Zarechny Maxim Valerievich
Agronomist with 12 years of experience. Our best summer cottage expert.
e must be included in the sheep ration in winter, up to 2.5 kg are harvested per individual. Wheat, barley, millet, alfalfa are used. It is advisable to harvest spring oil, its material composition is richer.
Straw should not be given to young individuals and breeders. For sheep, it is preferable to steam roughage, adding concentrates, grain, root crops to it. A good source of vitamins for livestock is haylage - grass withered to 50% moisture, harvested at the initial stage of the growing season, stored in the absence of oxygen. It is practiced to feed the sheep with oats and the remaining bran from its processing. Animals willingly eat meal and cake obtained from soybeans, corn, sunflower.
Rich sources of vitamins, minerals, fiber - fruits and roots. From root crops, sheep eat potatoes, carrots, fodder beets, and apples from fruits. Beets and carrots are served raw. You cannot feed animals with raw potatoes, otherwise the intestines will swell.
The daily portion for an adult is 500 g, for young animals - 300 g. Root crops are especially useful for lactating females.
Of vegetables, sheep eat pumpkin and squash. Melons and gourds are rich in vitamins, but they are given mainly as a rare delicacy, since it is not economically feasible to grow vegetables specifically for cattle breeding. A vegetable treat accelerates the growth of body weight of animals, increases the milk yield of females who have given birth. The daily portion for an adult is up to 400 g.
The compound feed is given to animals intended for slaughter in order to accelerate body weight gain. An adult eats 500 g of concentrated feed per day, a young one - 400 g. For a dairy sheep, 200 g is enough, and a meat type ram eats up to 700 g.
The lack of minerals negatively affects the health of animals, therefore, mineral springs are included in the diet of sheep.
Mineral deficiency in sheep is manifested:
- eating and licking inedible;
- the development of rickets in young animals;
- convulsive muscle contractions;
- loss of appetite;
- lethargy, emaciated appearance;
- dermatological problems;
- violation of the chair.
To replenish the mineral deficiency, sheep eat bone meal, chalk, and salt. Pet stores sell licking salt stones. You can use feed vitamin and mineral supplements, for example, "Vitasol".
One adult needs 10-15 g of chalk or bone meal per day, young - 5-10 g, lamb - 3 g.
Animal supplements and drinking regimen
Pregnant females and random animals are given animal feed to maintain the body:
- milk whey;
- cottage cheese.
Sheep should drink enough liquid, which is as important as good quality feed to maintain livestock productivity. An adult animal drinks up to 10 liters of water per day.
The dependence of food on the season
The feeding of the sheep varies considerably according to the seasons of the year. During the warmer and colder months, the animal's need for certain nutrients increases.
After the coarse winter food, the animals eat the first greens that have grown on the pastures. You should not stop feeding hay yet. Provide concentrated feed and suitable mineral supplements. The spring rate for one individual is 700 g of concentrates.
In summer, the basis of the diet is grass. The daily portion for an adult sheep is 7 kg, for a pregnant and nursing one - 8 kg. A lamb up to 9 months eats up to 4 kg per day, a one-year-old - 6 kg. The daily duration of grazing is 12 hours, during which time the sheep eat enough grass to provide the body with the necessary substances.
Even in summer, sheep eat concentrated feed, hay, root crops, and lick salt stones.
The pasture grass withers and no longer provides the animals with the necessary percentage of nutrients. Therefore, hay and compound feed are given in larger portions.
In the autumn months, an adult animal eats 3 kg of hay and 400 g of root crops.
In winter, stall keeping and feeding is practiced. An animal kept at home requires 4 kg of hay, root crops and silage per day. Winter portion of compound feed - 500 g. One should not forget about the sources of minerals.
Diet and norms
How much an animal eats per day depends on its age and the purpose of growing. It is especially important to ensure the balance and quality of the diet of pregnant females. A hatching sheep eats 500 g of hay and straw, 300 g of bean silage, 3 kg of fresh grass per day, plus fruits and root vegetables. Grain food is 300 g, and mineral sources are 15 g.
For fattening rams
Sheep retains body weight when it eats food rich in vitamins, minerals, and fiber every day. To make the weight grow faster, increase the calorie content of the feed, do not allow the ram to move actively.
Diet 2 weeks before slaughter for meat:
- 5 kg of silage;
- 1 kg of root vegetables;
- 700 g of high quality hay;
- 400-500 g of concentrates (you can give grain, corn and peas, dried bread).
Before slaughter, the portions of high-calorie foods should not be exceeded, otherwise thick layers of fat will appear in the meat of slaughtered animals. Sheep, prepared for mating, require a lot of strength, so the calorie content of food is doubled. Fattening of animals begins in 1.5 months. Breeders eat:
- hay - 2 kg;
- crushed cereal grains - 800 g;
- fodder root crops - 500 g;
- meal - 200 g;
- low-fat milk - 1 l;
- bone meal - 100 g;
- salt - 15 g.
For newly born lambs
The first 2 months of life, the lamb feeds on breast milk. Further, the cubs can be given sources of minerals (bone meal, chalk, salt stone) and concentrates (initial daily portion - 50 g). Gradually enrich the diet with leguminous hay.
An animal that has reached 5 months of age eats:
- compound feed - 300 g;
- root vegetables - 500 g;
- cake - 150 g;
- minerals - 4 g.
Feeding one-year-olds is carried out with the following list of products:
- 1.5 kg of silage;
- 500 g of cereal and legume hay;
- 150 g of crushed barley grains;
- 50 g meal;
- 8 g of salt.
Newborn lambs eat 5 times a day, half-year-olds - 2 times.
What can not be fed to animals
It is forbidden to feed sheep:
- marsh vegetation;
- sour grains (eg sedge);
- food beets;
- vegetables and fruits without cutting into small pieces;
- bakery products without drying.
Correct feeding ensures the health and high productivity of livestock. The diet is selected taking into account the age, physical condition, the purpose of the sheep, the season of the year, the food should be of high quality and balanced.