With hogg prices improving it makes sense to finish lambs as quickly and efficiently as possible. The most popular diets for indoor finishing are ad-lib concentrates or silage plus concentrates. Alternatives such as moist by-products can also be used successfully.
For lamb finishing on silage and concentrates the best results are seen on well fermented, palatable silage with a short chop length. A dry matter greater than 25% should be the aim, with ME over 11 MJ/kg DM, pH over 4.0 and ammonia nitrogen less than 10%. Silage should be chopped as it is digested in the rumen quicker which leads to a higher throughput and increased intakes. Silage with long chop length can slow the digestion process leading to reduced intakes and reduced efficiency. Maize silage is not usually used in lamb finishing diets but research has shown that it can be used effectively; however protein needs to be balanced appropriately. Concentrate level will depend on silage quality and range from 0.2 to 1 kg/head per day depending on target sale dates.
A number of farms choose to finish on ad-lib concentrates to provide a quick (3-6 weeks) finish. Intakes of concentrates are likely to be 1.0-1.5 kg/head/day with live weight gains of 150-250g/head/day. Typically fattening store lambs on ‘hard’ feed is a high throughput, short duration system. Lambs need to be introduced very rapidly to the feed so minimising any delays in fattening. High starch (rolled wheat, barley and maize) will lead to well finished lambs but these need to be fed with sources of digestible fibre (such as sugarbeet) to allow rapid and safe introduction. Otherwise, acidosis can result when high levels of concentrate are fed.
Alternatively, a high starch diet can be introduced gradually, building up over 10-14 days. Also, cereals can be rolled rather than ground to reduce acid build up in the rumen. Once lambs are fully on ad-lib, they should not be allowed to become empty, this will reduce the risk of animals overeating when feeders are refilled. In addition, lambs can be given access to long fibre to help stabilize the rumen. However, this can cause problems with some lambs as they will consume forage instead of concentrate and so not finish as quickly.
David Bridge at Court Green Farm, Guisborough finishes beltex cross lambs for a premium market. In a difficult year for sheep farmers, David’s lambs have averaged 184p per kilo over January and February. David uses hogg blend and aims for fast finishing with the first draw ready 3 weeks after they start on the ration. David says lambs sold in the first draw came in weighing 36 – 38 kg and ranged between 43 and 49 kg in the first batch, taking 3 weeks to finish. Lambs put on between 333g and 524g per day. Hogg blend is a 13.2 MJ/kg blend containing high quality ingredients including rolled barley & wheat, sugarbeet, distillers & soya. The combination of starch and fibrous energy sources means lambs go straight on to this blend ad lib without upsetting the rumen. Lambs also have access to both wheat and oat straw to aid rumen function. As the blend is very palatable he doesn’t get issues with lambs eating forage rather than concentrates.
Peter says despite the slightly higher costs per kg of the blends compared to other rations, we’re finding the physical structure of blends coupled with quality ingredients are leading to very rapid finish, leading to lambs leaving farm in less time.

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