Home 9 Resources 9 Farm sheep feeding guide

Farm sheep feeding guide

Farm sheep feeding guide

Feed Planning For Farm Sheep

Sheep are incredibly adaptable farm animals. However, the dietary needs of your flock must be satisfied by the feed you are supplying them to attain the levels of performance you are seeking.

Whether you’re feeding sheep or feeding goats, you can objectively match pasture supplies, and animal feed demands on your entire farm throughout the year by using feed planning. More organised feeding maximises output and also helps you reach livestock target weights.

Accurate knowledge of paddock and farm areas, your farm’s seasonal pasture growth, and an understanding of sheep feeding requirements are necessary for good feed planning.

These concepts are well within your grasp and simply mean the development of skills discussed in the following sheep feeding guide. 


Sheep Feeding Based On Rearing Cycles

Sheep have very different feeding requirements depending on which part of the rearing cycle they are in. Let’s take a look at some of the different feeding stages.

  • Feeding Ewes

Before mating, ewes should not be allowed to become excessively fat, but according to many guides to feeding ewes before mating, making daily gains is important in order to be at an optimum weight. Ewes may be confined and given high-quality hay and a modest amount of grain if pasture output becomes insufficient during mating. Ewes can be kept on pasture after mating, allowing sheep food to be stored for later in the year.

  • Feeding Lactating Ewes

Legume-grass pastures and forages with a more significant percentage of legumes will boost milk production in terms of nutrition. The milk yield of grazing ewes can be increased in response to additional supplementation if pastures and forage are not sufficient enough.

  • Lamb Feeding

Lambs should have unrestricted access to creep feed starting at about two weeks. They should be creep-fed for 1-2 months until sufficient forage is available in areas

with limited pasture. Whole grains may be utilised as the feeding period goes on, and the grain is gradually increased until the lambs are eating a full sheep’s diet.

  • Introducing Milk Replacer

Milk replacers are used when there is insufficient milk for lambs. Lamb-specific milk substitutes often have a high concentration of antibiotics, 25% protein, and about 30% fat. Farmers in hand-rearing systems often prefer ewe milk replacers. 

  • Finishing Feeder Lambs

According to feeding guidelines for lambs, lambs can be started safely on self-fed, ground, or pelleted diets combined with hay. Similar techniques can be utilised with other roughages, like silage.


Incorporating Supplementary Feed Into The Diet Of Sheep

Understanding the limits of your current system and what has to be improved will assist in making sheep farming more profitable. The best feed for your sheep might be supplemental feeding, which is more likely to be successful when done at the proper time and with the right product. 

Whether you have a lifestyle or a working farm, supplementing the sheep’s diet can be wise. Perhaps you want to raise more lambs, have them mature earlier, have them be bigger and healthier, or just have options when the weather isn’t on your side. Sheep feeds give sheep producers options with ranges that have been expanded to match the various needs of sheep depending on their life stage, pasture availability, and level of productivity.

Although sheep are good at converting New Zealand pasture, supplemental sheep feed pellets can provide protection against unpredictability in the weather and an additional degree of nutrition. Although it can be helpful to weigh animals, being able to body condition score sheep is vital when assessing their dietary requirements.

Even within a breed, mature ewe weight varies, and the amount of fat cover provides a more accurate estimate of the needs of the individual or flock. It’s vital to feel the fat cover on sheep with thick fleeces because a thick coat might conceal a lean physique—one of many tips to prepare for a successful lambing season for your ewes.


Tips For Feeding Lambs Inside And Outside

There are many stages from when a lamb is born and fed inside to when it can begin to feed from pastures. Let’s look at some information on the different locations of feeding lambs. 

Feeding Lambs Inside

  • Lambs will require 10-15% of their body weight in milk daily.
  • Milk should be 35-40 degrees.
  • Feeding should be done at least three times a day until around two weeks old, and then feeds can be two times a day and once a day from three weeks old.
  • They will initially need to be fed individually with a bottle before being transitioned onto a feeder from around two days old. Feeding should still be monitored to make sure all lambs are equally fed.
  • Keep pens as clean and bug-free as possible by spraying them weekly with disinfectant.

Transitioning To Feeding Outside

  • When lambs are consuming 100 grams of meal a day, they can go out to grass. This is usually around three weeks of age.
  • Weaning can begin once the lambs are consuming 200 grams of meal a day. Alternatively, this can be done when 10-12kg or 4-5 weeks old.
  • When consuming 400-700 grams of meal a day (or when 20kg or 8-10 weeks old), the young sheep can move to only consuming high-quality pasture. 


In Summary…

Deciding what to feed sheep and when and where to do it depends mainly on the stage of the sheep’s development. 

Knowing the ins and outs of your sheep’s rearing cycle is essential in planning for the next stage of feed management. Supplying your sheep with the proper nutrients at the right time will benefit your yield and positively affect your farm’s profitability.

Whether you are concerned about your sheep, dairy or deer nutrition, Sharpes Farm Feeds has the right product for you and covers several different animal feeds.

Contact a member of our team now to discuss how we can help.

External Links

For more information on the topics covered, go to;



©2021 Sharpes Stock Feeds Ltd. All rights reserved.