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The performance of ewes offered diets containing different proportions of perennial ryegrass and white clover silage in late pregnancy

  • R. J. Orr (a1) and T. T. Treacher (a1)

Abstract

Finn Dorset ewes were offered forage ad libitum from week 16 of pregnancy until lambing and were either unsupplemented (U) or given 600 g/day of concentrates (S). Grass silage and white clover silage, ensiled separately and having similar dry matter concentrations, were offered in four mixtures with white clover proportions of 0, 0·20, 0·40 and 0·60 on a fresh basis. Forage intake was significantly higher for mixtures containing higher proportions of clover (9·1, 10·5, 12·3 and 13·6 g organic matter (OM) per kg live weight) and the ewes gained more weight (33, 65, 178 and 174 g/day) and had smaller losses in body condition score (–0·59, –0·49, –0·39 and –0·17). Higher proportions of clover in the diet in late pregnancy also resulted in significantly higher growth rates of lambs during lactation, when a common diet was offered.

The number of foetuses carried in pregnancy had significant effects on intake and some aspects of performance. For ewes carrying singles, twins and multiples respectively, mean daily forage intakes were 12·2, 11·9 and 10·4 g OM per kg live weight and losses in body condition score were –0·05, –0·40 and –0·62.

Offering the supplement reduced forage intake and for treatments U and S respectively, mean daily values were 12·6 and 10·2 g OM per kg live weight. Whilst the supplemented ewes had smaller losses in body condition score in late pregnancy (–0·54 v. –0·28), lamb birth weights and growth rates were significantly increased only for ewes which had carried three or more foetuses in pregnancy and reared their two heaviest lambs.

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Keywords

The performance of ewes offered diets containing different proportions of perennial ryegrass and white clover silage in late pregnancy

  • R. J. Orr (a1) and T. T. Treacher (a1)

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