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More choices for the good shepherd

Until recently, sheep farmers may have felt their supplementary choices were limited by comparison to the vast ranges of Equine feeds. Supplementary feeds are available to suit the different classes of horses according to their stage of life, level of work and even physiological wellbeing and taste preferences.

Fortunately, the NRM sheep range has evolved and has been extended to reflect the different needs of sheep according to their stage of life, pasture supply and level of production. Whilst the NRM Multifeed and Multifeed plus Zinc are great, versatile go-to products, the nutritional spread offered by the NRM sheep range will hopefully appeal to those lifestyle and commercial farmers looking for more targeted solutions for this currently profitable livestock sector.

Feed supply and animal requirements vary through the year, so mammals have evolved to lay down some fat reserves when they can, which they can mobilise when required. Extremes of body condition – either poor condition or excess obesity – are inefficient and potentially dangerous, so having a feel for the body condition score of stock and being able to manage body condition is an important husbandry skill. Don’t rely on the nutritional wisdom of stock – they will become morbidly obese given the chance and can’t hop the fence in search of greener pastures when feed gets tight. A fleece can hide a bony back or well covered rump, so it pays to handle stock and feel the degree of fat cover. Even when flock numbers increase, it is possible to manage by exception – put the overweight ram on some tight keep and give the thin ewes with triplets and weaned lambs the best grazing available. By and large, sheep are good convertors of New Zealand pasture but supplementary feed offers a buffer against unpredictable weather and another level of nutrition, which can be targeted at those that need it the most.

During the summer, a lack of water and high ambient temperatures limit pasture growth as survival becomes the plant’s primary objective. If body condition is slipping or if some weight gain is required, NRM Sheep Nuts are a useful, high grain based feed, which are typically fed at up to 150g/head/day. If a drought really takes hold, NRM Summer Dry Nuts can be fed at higher rates and deliver more protein to help balance more mature conserved forages, which may have to be fed alongside limited grazing. As a 10mm nut, they are well suited to being fed on the ground with minimal waste.

If you have the advantage of sheltered paddocks or even sheds, earlier lambing can have some benefits, provided the risk of perinatal losses associated with an extreme weather event can be mitigated.

In many regions, the demand for pet lambs for rearing is so strong that maximising the size of the live lamb crop makes economic sense even if some lambs need to be sold or are kept and raised on the bottle.

Flushing ewes – raising their level of nutrition before and through mating – has long been recognised as a way of stimulating fertility, both in terms of the number of eggs released and conception rates. NRM Sheep Pre-Tup Nuts are – as the name suggests – designed for feeding to ewes and rams 4 to 6 weeks before and during tupping (mating). If the weather or irrigation obliges by providing good quality pasture before mating, they may not be necessary but if pasture quality or supply is sub-optimal, or if ewes need an extra lift after a hard period, they are well worth considering. As catalysts that speed up reactions, trace minerals are involved in many bodily processes and hormones. NRM Sheep Pre-Tup Nuts contain elevated trace mineral and vitamin levels to help minimise the risk of deficiencies that might impact on health and fertility at this important time.

NRM Sheep Nuts are a useful supplement as lambing draws closer. Energy demand from the developing fetuses increases just as their size restricts rumen volume and dry matter intake at a time of year that pasture quality could be falling.

NRM Sheep Triplet Nuts take nutrition to the next level with elevated levels of both energy and protein. They are best directed at triplet bearing ewes, so are great for flocks that have been scanned. Improved nutrition can help the survivability of lambs by improving fat stores, lessening the risk of sleepy sickness (ketosis/acetonaemia) and improving the quality of the colostrum and the milkiness of ewes.

In 2018, NRM Lamb Start Mix and Lamb Performance Pellets were launched and proved popular throughout New Zealand. With the coccidiostat Deccox, they are a good option for the commercial lamb rearing operation where this parasite can accumulate over the years but also the occasional lamb rearer who wants the added reassurance of this aid in the prevention of a potentially deadly protozoa. The 10kg NRM Lamb Start Mix option proved an attractive proposition for people with just a single lamb or as starter option for people with more lambs that wished to progress to Performance Pellets as lambs got older. Designed for bottle reared lambs, NRM Lamb Performance Pellets make a good creep feed for lambs on ewes that need some help – especially through weaning.

For further information, contact your local Nutrition Specialist.

Article supplied by Dr. Rob Derrick, Lead Nutritionist.


NRM sheep and lamb range specifications

Product MJ ME/kg DM Crude Protein % Designed use
Sheep Nuts 12.2 12.2 Whenever quality or quantity of forages available is insufficient for the class of sheep being fed.
Summer Dry Nuts 11.5 15 Primarily to fill a feed pinch during a dry or hot spell.
Pre-Tup Nuts 12.2 15.5 To supplement the flock prior to and through mating.
Triplet Nuts 12.8 25 High energy and protein supplement for ewes that are carrying or feeding triplets.
Lamb Start Mix 13 19 Muesli style starter feed for newborn lambs.
Lamb Performance Pellets 12.8 19 Pellets for bottle-reared lambs from day one or after Lamb Start Mix, or for lambs on ewes that need a creep feed.