Feed questions

Discussion in 'Sheep' started by havenberryfarm, Jun 23, 2004.

  1. havenberryfarm

    havenberryfarm Well-Known Member

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    OK. I am a total newbie here. DH and I are looking to buy a shetland sheep next spring, but I don't really know a good feed recipe or how much to feed in terms of grain. We are getting our pasture together, but I don't know if I should grow some oats this August or not. Next year we will be growing corn on our extra little 5 acres (2 1/2 of which will be ours after we split it with our farmer neighbor). In addition I have planted about 3 acres of pasture. I will have 1 1/4 acres more to play with and I might plant some oats this August and then split it into thirds and plant oats, corn and a legume on rotation. I would plant this and harvest it by hand, so I think it is about all I could handle.

    Does anyone have a recipe for sheep feed that calls mainly for corn and oats?

    Can sheep eat soybean meal as part of their ration? If so, how much of the total? i.e. 10%?

    We are also getting a goat or two and have chickens to feed. I would like to make up an all-purpose feed and then add in what each animal requires beyond that. The more recipes I get the better. Then I will have a better idea of what each animal requires, and I can combine recipes effectively.

    Also, about how much do sheep eat yearly in terms of grain? Assuming they would have ample pasture in summer and average hay in the winter, how much should I be prepared to feed them? I figured about 750 lbs, but this is a really rough estimate. This would be a ewe and I would get a ram the second year and breed her. Shetlands are a little on the small side, around 90-120 lbs, I think.

    Sorry for all the questions. I just want to know how many animals I can afford to feed. Cuz I want to get as many as I can... :eek:
     
  2. Shygal

    Shygal Unreality star Supporter

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    I dont know the answer to your feed question, but I believe you will need 2 sheep, because a single sheep will be too lonely without another for company. Sheep are herd animals and dont do well alone.

    Same for the goats, you will need to get two of them as well.
     

  3. Maura

    Maura Well-Known Member Supporter

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    With all that pasture, I don't see why you would need grain. Shetlands (plural!) are easy keepers. Talk with the breeder you get the sheep from, but unless your hay is low quality in the winter, you may not need to grain at all. As for a formula, we always used mostly oats (like 4/5) with some corn, and only in the winter. Corn does not keep them warm, by the way, hay keeps them warm. The grain is to supplement carbohydrates and other nutrition. Make sure they have eaten hay before you give them grain.

    If someone near you makes hay, you may be able to work out a deal with him where he cuts and bales your hay and you split it with him. Then you will know exactly what you are giving your animals and at what time it was cut.

    If you shear the sheep in the winter they will need shelter until they grow their coat. Other wise, they really only need shelter from the sun.

    I would also recommend buying three ewes. Instead of buying a ram, unless you can get a real sweet one, just have the girls bred by a ram owned by someone else.

    I noticed that our chickens do not eat the oats, but love the corn and also soybeans. You have to get soybeans that are toasted, though, or cook them yourself.

    Also, you can't just turn them out and expect them to eat everything. They will eat what they like until it can't grow anymore, and the stuff they don't like will take over. You will need to move them from pasture area to area. You can use portable electric fencing, or divide the pasture up on a more permanent basis. If you manage the grazing, you keep them off each section 21 days or longer, and you will have a healthier pasture and low parasites.
     
  4. havenberryfarm

    havenberryfarm Well-Known Member

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    Thanks for your detailed reply. I know that sheep are herd animals, but I was hoping that I could put the sheep and goat together for a year. I don't really want to breed them the first year if they are babies. I worry about her development. It seems like it would be awfully hard on a body to be PG while still growing. I know a lot of people do it.

    It is good to know that she wouldn't need much more than good hay. I am sure someone around here sells it. :)

    Am I wrong to think that the goat and sheep would be OK company for eachother? If so I am open to getting another sheep, especially since they only need hay and a little grain over the winter. I would rather go slow for DH's sake tho. I am still breaking him in to this lifestyle. :D
     
  5. Ross

    Ross Moderator Staff Member Supporter

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    Kind of a loaded question. Different sheep will cope with little or no grain while others will almost assuredly need supplimenting. I think 750 pounds is probably quite a bit more than any breed will need each per year! NW Ohio is likely similar to E Ontario for climate, you might have a few more heat units per year (we're 2600) but I'll bet you still have to plan to feed 200 days off pasture. Your pasture will determine how much suppliment they need, as well as worm controls. Basically you feed grain a month before breeding to bring them up to condition 3 or better and most will benefit from a little if they are already in shape. Then you feed a similar amount to keep that condition after breeding to help ensure they keep all the lambs conceived. As the lambs grow you may need to suppliment again for the last month and a half, as they can not eat much hay with lambs inside taking up room squeezing the stomach area. Yes you can feed soymeal, I use micronized soy (micro beans) as it's not ground and has the oil in. Your aiming for a ration that totals 14-16% protien as a basic rule of thumb, including all feed sources. Neither corn nor oats will do this unless you're feeding 20%protein hay! Think 5 pounds of hay per day or 1000 pounds per winter each. That "hay" can have the higher protein as alfalfa or can be a grass mix legume running as low as 12% if you suppliment. I have always thougth its easier to feed lower protein hay and suppliment as needed. As for grain 90 days of flushing even at 2 pounds per day (and they'd need to be very thin to need that much) is 180 pounds and say 90 more prior to and after lambing totals 360 pounds as a maximum amount each would need and could realistically be 70% less on average in a small flock on good pasture, with good parasite managment.

    Can you plant oats in August and harvest it as grain??? Maybe your area is very different. I've heard of late planting for fall grazing but not as a grain crop. It should have been in last month for grain if it was here.
     
  6. You will want more than one Shetland. They like companionship. Have you kept goats before? They tend to need strong fences. Sheep are easier to keep fenced, IMHO.

    I have a few Shetlands. The lady that I purchased mine from has nearly 100 shetlands. She feeds hay through the winter. The only time her sheep get grain is when they are nursing. The only time mine get any is is as a treat to train them to follow us. That amounts to a handful of grain per day per sheep. Too much grain based feeding can cause bloat and led to a very sick or dead sheep.
     
  7. havenberryfarm

    havenberryfarm Well-Known Member

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    Thanks so much, everyone. I am getting a picture here. Two shetlands and a goat and I can certainly feed two young sheep on what I had thought I would need for one (as far as grain, anyway). I also think I will wait until next year and plant some oats in March on that little patch of unused land. We are growing corn on 5 acres next year too, so I should have plenty. I'll just suppliment with some soymeal. Only 14-16% protein, eh? The pasture I just planted should do very nicely then. Oh, man. I am :D excited now.
     
  8. Ross

    Ross Moderator Staff Member Supporter

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    14-16% for growing replacements or maintaining sheep. Typically I feed 1/2 to 3/4 of a pound of corn/soy or barley/soy per ewe unless its been a dry year with poorer pastures, then as much as 2 pounds. I'd say you can easily feed more than 3 but its better to start too small than too big! FYI you can feed slaughter lambs a ration 18-20% protein but understand that's too hot for replacement lambs and conditioning ewes. They'll put fat in the wrong place to lamb easily and it stresses thier kidney/liver function. Fine if they're not going to live past a year anyhow.