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HomeFarming NewsFarmers should not buy concentrates on price alone
Catherina Cunnane
Catherina Cunnanehttps://www.thatsfarming.com/
Catherina Cunnane hails from a sixth-generation drystock and specialised pedigree suckler enterprise in Co. Mayo. She currently holds the positions of editor and general manager at That's Farming, having joined the firm during its start-up phase in 2015.
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Farmers should not buy concentrates on price alone

CAFRE beef and sheep adviser, Brian Hanthorn, takes a look at concentrate feeding rates, lying areas and trough space for sheep.

In his previous article, he provided important ewe feeding and management tips.


Concentrate feeds are expensive this year, but farmers should not buy on price alone. They must take a logical approach and study the feed label carefully.

The ingredients on the feed label are in descending order of inclusion rate.

Ewe concentrates can vary from 16-21 % protein, and the type of protein is really important, especially in prolific flocks.

Soya bean meal is a good bypass protein source and should really be the top protein source on the feed label.

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Energy sources in a good ewe concentrate should comprise cereals, mainly maize, barley or wheat. These should be positioned well up on the feed label.

Farmers should avoid ingredients such as sunflower and an over-supply of highly fibrous feeds, which will generally lower the ration quality.

Feeding concentrates twice daily is recommended over once daily as there is less chance of acidosis and puts less pressure on the rumen.

Sheep feeding rates 

Table 1: Concentrate feeding rates (kg per ewe) for twin bearing ewes of body score 3.

Weeks before lambing Precision chop Big bale
Excellent quality


(11.7 MJ)


Poor quality


(9.6 MJ)


Excellent quality


(11.7 MJ)


4-6 0 0.4 0.25
2-4 0.35 0.7 0.55
0-2 0.50 1.0 0.70
Total concentrate fed from 6 weeks pre lambing (kg)  







Lying area and trough space

Overcrowding and lack of trough space generally results in very dirty sheep, with a number of them not receiving the correct allocation of feed.

This can lead to metabolic disease in ewes and post-lambing issues such as scour and watery mouth in young lambs.

The correct space and feeding area requirements are below.

Table 2: Lying area allowances


Weight of ewe


Area required on straw (m2/ewe)

Large ewe 60-90kg in lamb 1.2-1.4
Large ewe 60-90 kg in early lactation 1.4-1.8
Large ewe 60-90 kg with lambs to 6 weeks of age 2.0-2.20


Table 3: Trough space



(mm/ewe )


Restricted forage




Ad- lib forage and TMR (mm/ewe)

Large ewe

(70-90 kg)







Small ewe

(50-70 kg)









Water intake varies according to the stage of production and the dry matter of the diet.

In late pregnancy, the water intake per ewe is around 4.5 litres per day. This goes up to 10 litres per day in early lactation. Water drinkers must be kept clean and easily accessible to the sheep.

Attention to detail in all areas, including housing, feed, water and overall hygiene practices, will help give lambs the best start and maximise numbers you can sell this summer and autumn.

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