Supplementing hill ewes during late pregnancy with hay plus self-help feed-blocks is an established feeding system. However, there is considerable individual and seasonal variation in feed-block intake (Lippert and Milne, 1986) which can limit their effectiveness. This experiment evaluated an alternative system for supplementing hill ewes, during late pregnancy (6 weeks before lambing), based on molassed sugar beet feed (MSBF).
One hundred and eighteen single-bearing Swaledale ewes were allocated to one of two treatments; 1. Control - supplemented with hay plus feed-blocks (HB), 2. Supplemented initially with MSBF (nuts), being replaced by a blend (50:50 fresh weight basis) of MSBF and pelleted distillers barley grains (BDG) (MSBF/BDG).
The experiment commenced on 18 February 1993. Hay feeding was restricted to 300 g/head/day (HB). High energy (HE) and extra high energy (EHE) feed-blocks, were offered free access (at a rate of one block per 20 ewes). MSBF and MSBF/BDG were fed at a flat rate of 375 g/head/day. HE and MSBF were fed between 18 February and 26 March, being replaced by EHE and MSBF/BDG between 27 March and 10 May. Crude protein (g/kg dry matter (DM)) and metabolisable energy (MJ/kg DM) values were 144 and 9.2; 174 and 9.4; 178 and 10.2; 108 and 12.5; 174 and 12.8 for hay, HE, EHE, MSBF and MSBF/BDG respectively. The ewes were out-wintered on hill grazings.