The objective was to determine whether a fodder-beet based diet (FB) balanced for crude protein, vitamins and minerals could support similar ewe live weight (LW), body condition score (BCS) and lamb birth weight compared to a lucerne-based diet. Triplet-bearing ewes (60-70 days gestation) were randomly allocated to a lucerne-based (65% of dry matter [DM] n=12) or FB-based (56% FB bulb; n=16) diet. Lambs were weighed two hours after birth. Ewe LW (P=0.970) and BCS (P=0.165) did not differ between treatments and there was no diet-by-day gestational age (dGA) interaction. A diet-by-dGA interaction was observed for DM intake (P=0.003) where FB-fed ewes consumed less than control ewes with advancing gestation. A diet-by-sex interaction was evident for lamb birth weight (P=0.026) where female lambs from FB-fed ewes were heavier than female lambs from control-fed ewes, with no difference between males. These results indicate that supplementing a FB-based diet with additional protein, fibre and minerals can maintain triplet-bearing ewe BCS and LW and improve female lamb birth weight compared to those born to control ewes.

FW, Knol, C Erichsen, A Jonker, E Sandoval, D Pacheco, SY Hea, and SA McCoard

New Zealand Journal of Animal Science and Production, Volume 79, Palmerston North, 168-170, 2019
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