questions regarding feeding ewes high quality alfalfa

Discussion in 'Sheep' started by Calvin, Oct 24, 2003.

  1. Calvin

    Calvin Member

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    Jun 6, 2002
    I have 3rd crop very nice straight alfalfa to feed my ewes this winter. I don't like to feed grain and would like to know if it is possible to meet all of the ewes nutritional demands for the last 5 weeks of pregnancy by letting her eat free chioce at the hay bunk?
    I have never fed alfalfa before and any other suggestions regarding it would be appreciated.
    Thank you.
    Calvin
     
  2. Ross

    Ross Moderator Staff Member Supporter

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    May 9, 2002
    Location:
    Ontario
    Technically yes it's all they need. One of the most succesful sheep farmers I've met does exactly this. I only say technically because the ewes have to be in the right condition to utilize the feed and they must be started on it slowly. If the ewes are thin and pregnant I would doubt they have the stomach capacity to get enough hay processed to feed herself and her lambs. If she's too fat you run the risk of milk fever with the too readily available calcium in Alfalfa, especially in first timers and older ewes. If they've had a sheep mineral mix free choice and even some baking soda either free choice or mixed in, and the hay is introduced slowly mixed with whatever feed they are getting before over 10-14 days, it should work on ewes in condition score 3 +or - a little. Assuming the alfalfa is truely 18% protein plus you might want to feed a little whole oats (1/4 pound or less ea) to cool it off! Regardless making the ewes walk for their feed (all types) helps keep muscle tone up and digestion functioning properly. Penned ewes fed too well can be as big a problem as starved sheep.
     

  3. Kasidy

    Kasidy Well-Known Member

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    Oct 20, 2002
    I have been raising sheep for a number of years and feed only alfalfa, no grain at all. It is second cutting that we raise ourselves up here in northern Montana. It was seeded at 80/20 alfalfa/grass and is a fine stemmed very leafy variety. I have never had it tested, but assume it must be 16-18%. The ewes are always in very good flesh and deliver nice big healthy lambs. We very seldom get a third cutting up here (especially going on 6 drought years!), but when we do I am pretty careful feeding it to the sheep as it is so leafy I would worry about bloat. I mix it with first cutting when I use it.