Limited work has been carried out on straw feeding to pregnant ewes. The present study aimed to assess intake and performance of ewes when fed diets based on either barley or pea straw.
One hundred and forty mule ewes were randomly allocated to basal diets of pea or barly straw 15 weeks prior to lambing and allowed access to straw prior to housing to allow diet familiarisation. Pregancy diagnosis was performed at 75-80 days of gestation using real time ultrasound scanning. All in-lamb ewes were housed and grouped according to predicted foetal load. Ewe liveweight and condition was assessed at housing, 6 and 4 weeks prior to lambing and immediately after lambing.
Straw was available ad libitum and was supplemented with 400 g/day distillers dark grains. From 6 weeks prior to lambing whole barley with an inclusion of 15% fishmeal was fed twice daily up to a level of 600 g/day for ewes carrying twins and triplets and 400 g/d for ewes carrying singles.