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Not quite pets per se ... but any sheep farmers around?

(9 Posts)
Millie1 Mon 08-May-06 12:11:43

If so, I'd be really interested to know what your feeding bills are (approx) leading up to, during and after lambing time ... just per ewe and ballpark. If anyone can help please!


IvortheEngine Mon 08-May-06 12:25:49

If you google "Sheep feeding during pregnancy", you should be able to find suitable products i.e. sugar beet, concentrate nuts, blocks, etc as well as hay, silage and grass. Then you can find stockists of the products and then prices, hopefully! Sorry, I don't have my books or file notes any more. You could also try ringing your local farmers supplies shop which will certainly stock sheep feed. HTH.

Millie1 Mon 08-May-06 12:37:10

Thanks IvortheEngine ... have just seen my feed bill (and I'm not responsible for administing the feed) but one month alone was £160 to feed 12 ewes and around 14 lambs ... 25 x 25kg bags of feed. Seems completely excessive to me when I do the sums going by feed quantities recommended by manufacturers. There goes a lot of my meagre profit !

IvortheEngine Mon 08-May-06 13:07:25

Oh, dear. My experiences of sheep farming is largely at the other end of the scale - over a thousand and then of course you get economies of scale. Do you belong to a co-op? It might help as you buy smallish quantities at a time, I guess. How much grass do you have and do you feed hay and silage? What is your stocking level like? Do you farm organically and can you reconsider your fertiliser use next year so that you have more grass or can you use FYM if you're organic? Can you shop around or change brands of sheep food? You will have to check the ingredient labels very carefully, though, to check that you are getting the levels of protein, fat, vitamins and minerals etc that your sheep need. Are your sheep feeding from a trough i.e. is some of the food getting trampled into the ground and wasted? Sorry - lots of questions!

Millie1 Mon 08-May-06 13:23:51

Ivor ... not too many questions at all. Delighted that you're interested although 10 ewes compared to over 1000 is small-fry indeed! Guess you're kept pretty busy?!

To cut a long story short, the ewes are kept at my parents' farm. All care of stock is undertaken by a long-term employee ... is renowned for over-feeding animals - trying to change his habits of a lifetime is absolutely impossible!

The food is bought in 25kg bags - and we can get one at a time so it's not down to us having to buy large quantities - that's simply how much he fed them during the month of March! And they're out - maybe in for a few days when they lamb but that's it. There's plenty of grass (spread over 40 acres) although not much new growth as yet - but still, what's there is good. The troughs probably have a few inches of uneaten meal lying in them. They get fed pellets, no silage additionally hay if they're in.

I'm pretty sure it's a simple case of gross over-feeding - and wastage but just need someone to confim it!

IvortheEngine Mon 08-May-06 13:48:15

please excuse the 1 handed typing. am eating lunch with the other.

you do have a problem. can you put up a copy of an invoice on the wall of wherever the feed is kept. he may be shocked by it esp if belonging to the old school.

the trough must be clean and dry. if there is anything left over from the last feed then they are being overfed. clear out the old stuff so it doesn't spoil the new feed put in the trough.

Back to two hands.

We had a long term employee who was, quite frankly, a liability. Luckily he voluntarily moved away and the problem was solved that way.

Can you explain the financial side to your parents? I'm sure they'd hate to think that so much of your money was being wasted. It must be difficult to address the problem, especially as the person is presumably causing the same sort of problem to them. Can they explain the financial side to him and say that they really need to cut costs and have re-calculated the amount of feed needed and it now needs to be 1 small bucket a day instead of 1 medium bucket, or whatever? Can you deliberately keep the stock of food low, just a day's worth at a time, perhaps?

I don't know if any of that helps. I do sympathise, though. I'm not farming now, unfortunately. I moved away myself and do office work now, believe it or not. Farming is still in my blood. Ah, well.

Millie1 Mon 08-May-06 14:07:08

Yep ... longterm problem effecting them also and unfortunately, even after 45 years, Dad is unable to do anything about it. You agree that's waaaay too much feed? Think what I'm going to do is work out exactly how much we need per week (give or take a bit) and collect however many bags myself from the feed supplier - and put a bar on anymore being bought! He'll just have to adjust to feeding lesser quantities. At least summer is just about upon us and there'll shortly be no need to feed any longer.

Going forward, plan to become more hands on again now that the children are getting a bit bigger and that'll make it much easier to control things.


IvortheEngine Mon 08-May-06 14:18:42

That's the problem with things like this. The longer they go on, the harder it is to tackle the problem and sort it. I didn't get involved with the bills side of things when I was farming at home or working for others and I've binned all my ND in Agri papers or else I could look up the business plan we had to do in Year 3. Anyway...doing a rough calculation, yes, I would say that £160 is a lot. I'm glad to hear that you have 40 acres (I was afraid you might say a pocket handkerchief but it's actually far from it, so your stocking level isn't a problem) of grass for them. I think your idea is fine except I'm certain he'll feed as normal and then complain loudly when the feed runs out as it inevitably will. When you stand firm, then the message will sink in, I'm sure. Good luck and I'm sure your children will love being involved.

2ndtime Sun 21-May-06 00:26:32

My experience, with 15 sheep on 66 acres, is that they will eat as much corn as you give them regardless of the grass available. We have loads of well fertilised pasture which cattle thrive on but the ewes will ask to be fed every time they see anyone standing near the trough. They are currently fed one bucket full of feed a day between them all and look great on it. Your feed bills do sound excessive. Dont forget that when you come to sell the lambs, whilst size is important, a fat lamb is not always a good thing. I would have a quiet word and slash your bills. The profit is small enough as it is!

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