How are breeding stock fed from birth onward?

We do not use feed creep feed, alfalfa or any other high-protein concentrate to our ewes or lambs. Breeding ewes are fed modest grass hay during winter, and are given 1-1.5¬†pounds each of dry corn-barley (8% crude protein) during the last 30-60 days of pregnancy, tailing off by the second week of nursing. Lambs are born on pasture and the ewes are grazing from lambing time onward. Lambs wean onto pasture grass alone and are given minimal de-worming treatment. Thus, we don’t get the average pound-per-day gains on lambs that people in intensive, indoor lambing operations achieve. But for our climate and region where feed and labor is very expensive, we feel this system breeds a better sheep: one that can perform outdoors with low inputs and labor. This is the sheep of the future.¬†

If you want to buy breeding stock that will fit in a grass-fed operation, it’s a good idea to buy them from a similar operation. You may find that purchasing sheep from a “hot house” rearing environment is hit-or-miss: some animals may do OK in a pasture-based system, but many will not thrive and you’ll be culling them in a year or two.