The effect of frequency of supplementation on the production of South African Mutton Merino ewes grazing wheat stubble

Author: L. Brundyna, T.S. Brand, A.V. Ferreira, B.B. Aucamp and A. Durand
Year: 2005
Issue: 1
Volume: 6
Page: 13 - 18

A trial was conducted to determine to what extent the frequency of supplementary feeding would affect the production of sheep while grazing wheat stubble in the winter rainfall region of South Africa. One hundred and sixty SA Mutton Merino ewes were randomly divided into two groups that consisted of four camps each.  They grazed eight camps of wheat stubble for a period of 138 days during which parturition occurred.  One hundred ewes (four groups of 25 each) grazed a 17 ha camp at a stocking density of 5.8 sheep/ha and 60 ewes (four groups of 15 each) grazed a 12 ha camp at a stocking density of 5.0 sheep/ha. A weekly rotation within each of the two camps was followed to eliminate the camp effect.  An energy and protein combination supplement was made available to the ewes as a lick.  Two groups received no supplementary feed, two groups received 200 g/ewe/day, two groups received 400 g/ewe every second day, and two groups received 600 g/ewe every third day.  During the feeding period, the smallest decrease in the weight of the ewes was observed in the groups that received supplementary feed every day as well as every second day, while no significant differences were observed between these two groups. Over the total feeding period, the smallest decrease in weight was observed in the groups that received supplementary feed in comparison with the control groups.  Lambing percentage, weaning percentage, birth weight, 42-day weight and survival rate of the lambs were not affected significantly.  This implies that supplying this type of supplementary feed to ewes only every third day or at least every second day is a viable option, whereby production is not harmed, and a reduction in labour and transport costs may be established.

Keywords: Bodyweight, SA Mutton Merino ewes, supplementation frequency, wheat stubble
Read article