For sheep producers, having a high percentage of live births means more animals to market. But that doesn’t “just happen” on lambing day. It takes careful matings, good management practices and a high-quality nutrition regimen to make sure the ewes get bred, sustain their pregnancy and deliver healthy lambs, preferably two of them.
Sam Silvers, owner of Silvers Livestock, Junction, Texas, has been using the DuraFerm® Sheep Concept•Aid® line with his flock for several years. He said rotating between the DuraFerm Sheep Concept•Aid and the DuraFerm® Sheep Concept•Aid® Protein Tub throughout the year and adding the Vita Charge® Gel during stressful situations like lambing, make lambing time at the West Texas club lamb operation go without much challenge.
“First of all, conception rates are a big deal. The more bred ewes mean more money. I’ve had customers in the last week tell me they’ve seen conception rates of 91, 93, and 96% since switching to DuraFerm,” Silvers said.
Another key benefit of the DuraFerm that Silvers and his peers have discovered is that their ewes maintain more pregnancies. They are less likely to sluff a lamb, and therefore a higher number of ewes that confirm bred will actually lamb.
The rotation of products that Silvers said works best for him includes feeding the DuraFerm Sheep Concept•Aid Protein Tub starting about two to three weeks prior to lambing to make sure the ewes get the added protein boost they need, while helping prevent pregnancy disease. He also likes to make sure that the lambs are absorbing all the vitamins, minerals, protein and Amaferm® during those last few weeks of gestation. At lambing, Silvers said his lambs appear shinier and healthier.
In addition to the Amaferm those lambs are receiving in utero, Silvers said he likes to administer each lamb a dose of Vita Charge Gel as soon as it is born to get some Amaferm in their own gut. He also has it available for the ewes if they experience stress during lambing.
Amaferm is a precision-based prebiotic found in all DuraFerm and Vita Charge products that impacts intake, feed digestibility and nutrient absorption for amplified breeding performance. Amaferm is research-proven to increase the energy available to the animal resulting in more milk production as well as the ability to initiate and maintain pregnancy and fertility. The DuraFerm products provide the balanced levels of high–quality vitamin and minerals required for growth, breeding and lambing.
“They (the lambs) will hit the tub first before anything else. That’s what I want, to get that protein in their diet, to get that rumen working. Get some Amaferm in their diet, and they seem to get a better start. They are going to see what mom is doing. That’s how they learn so if they see mom on that tub, they usually hit the tub first. Get their gut working, give them a little boost of energy. Get ‘em started on creep a little faster,” Silvers said, of his lambs that usually discover DuraFerm Protein Tubs within the first two to three weeks of age.
Another benefit that Silvers has been made of aware of, although “miniscule in the grand scheme” is that some people think the Amaferm helps with shag growth. However, with lambs selling earlier and earlier every year, every advantage helps when it comes time to market those lambs.
Once the lambs are weaned and the ewes are turned out to grass, Silvers switches to the DuraFerm Sheep Concept•Aid. The free-choice mineral contains organic zinc and manganese, selenium yeast and high levels of vitamin E to support maximum reproduction and health. Silvers will keep his ewes on this loose supplement to keep their vitamin and mineral levels up, while keeping Amaferm in their system to help them utilize forage and convert grass more efficiently.
When breeding time approaches, he will once again transition the flock to the DuraFerm Concept•Aid Protein Tubs to continue them on their nutrition program, while giving them an extra shot of protein. However, once the ewes are confirmed bred, they convert back to the free–choice product, to eliminate some cost and help ensure the ewes and their growing lambs don’t get too big.
“When they are in gestation, the ewes’ maintenance needs are not great. You could get too much internal fat built up as good as that tub is, so we go back to the loose mineral. We don’t want to get our ewes too fat or lambs too big prior to lambing,” Silvers said.
The rotation between the DuraFerm Sheep Concept•Aid and the Protein Tubs has helped Silvers and others get more ewes bred, keep them pregnant and lamb out a higher number of healthier, stronger lambs. Combine that with the Vita Charge Gel at lambing time, and those lambs are off to a winning start.