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Energy Requirements of the Ewe During Pregnancy

To maintain her weight, the pregnant ewe requires around 1.7% of her body weight each day in dry matter.

When a ewe becomes pregnant, the developing foetus inside her also requires energy, increasing the ewe’s total energy demand. The development of the foetus increases exponentially during the length of the pregnancy, with up to 60% of development occurring in the last month.

Nutritional requirements during late gestation reach around 1.5x the maintenance amount (up to 2.7% of body weight in dry matter per day). During lactation, energy demand significantly increases again (3.6 – 4.0+ BW in DM/Day).

Nutritional requirements of the pregnant ewe influence the viability of the lamb, poor nutrition means poor lamb condition. Severe nutritional deficiencies during pregnancy can be potentially fatal for either the lamb(s) or ewe.

How Farmsense Can Help with Nutritional Deficits During Pregnancy

At Farmsense, we know how important nutrition is, especially for the newborn lamb and the pregnant ewe. As such, our energy products can be split in to two distinct categories:

Energy Products for Ewes

Multilam® - As mentioned earlier, the energy demand on the pregnant ewe increases dramatically during pregnancy. A ewe birthing twins or triplets has an even greater energy demand, one which can be difficult to meet. Multilam® is a fast acting energy supplement that can helps ewes who may have received inadequate nutrition during late gestation. A unique combination of four different energy sources allows for a phased release of energy of a 24-hour period.

Energy Products for Lambs

Maxiboost® – A newborn lamb is born with limited energy stores, which if allowed to deplete can cause severe, if not fatal, problems. Like Multilamb®, Maxiboost® is a unique combination of multiple energy sources, allowing for long lasting energy release. This makes Maxiboost® especially effective for weak or chilled lambs.

Veloron® – Colostrum is the first milk provided by a ewe to her lambs, which is rich in energy and antibodies, helping to fight off disease. In instances where a lamb doesn’t receive enough colostrum a supplement such as Ovicol® can make a great replacement if administered shortly after birth; however, if this narrow window is missed, the lambs are less able to absorb antibodies (e.g. IgG) from colostrum. In such a case, Veloron® can be used, as it is rich in energy, but also contains the probiotic Enterococcus Faecium. This species of ‘good bacteria’ populates the naïve lamb gut and reduces the ability of pathogenic bacteria to establish.

The Future of Nutrition During Pregnancy

In the sheep industry, nutritional measures are considered an alternative to hormonal treatments and can be used to improve reproductive performance of ewes, particularly ovulation rate.

What lies in the future for nutrition during pregnancy? Well, a recent study investigated the effect of short-term supplementation with rumen-protected fat.

The fat used in the study (Palm acid oil) acted as a source of energy and when given around breeding time, it was shown to improve metabolism, conception and lambing rates of ewes.

Raising a ewe’s energy intake by increasing the proportion of grain in the diet can bring with it numerous metabolic or digestive disorders. This explains why being able to increase energy intake through fatty acid is beneficial.

Rumen-protected fats such as palm acid oil have been shown to increase total energy intake without adversely affecting rumen fermentation in cows.

N. M. Hashem & S. Z. El-Zarkouny (2013). `Effect of short-term supplementation with rumen-protected fat during the late luteal phase on reproduction and metabolism of ewes'. J Anim Physiol Anim Nutr