How much does a ewe eat?
The question of how much does a ewe eat is best broken down into two parts. Elders livestock production advisor Emma Shattock explains how much a ewe can ingest in a day and how much a ewe needs to eat.
How much can a ewe ingest in one day?
The amount of feed that a ewe can physically ingest in one day depends largely on two things – the size on the ewe and the fibre content/digestibility of the feed.
It makes sense that bigger animals can eat more in a day. As to the fibre content, this comes down to how fast feed is broken down, allowing room in the gut for more feed.
Take the following as an example for a 60kg ewe:
- Approximately 2kg/day for a highly digestible feed, such as pellets or grain (about 3.5% of her bodyweight).
- Approximately 1.4kg/day for a higher fibre feed, such as good quality hay. This will vary depending on the fibre content/digestibility of the feed. Intakes will be lower for a high fibre feed like straw.
How much does a ewe need to eat?
This answer comes down to energy requirement. For the same 60kg ewe, her energy requirements will alter throughout the reproductive cycle.
The table below shows the nutritional requirements for maintenance, late pregnancy and peak lactation.
|60kg ewe||Energy rquirements||Example of daily intake (assuming no pasture)|
|Dry ewe (maintenance)||10.0 MJ ME/day||1.1 to 1.4kg hay, or
|Late pregnancy (day 120)||13.8 MJ ME/day||1.3kg barley
Unable to meet with hay alone
|Peak lactation (day 20)||28.0 MJ ME/day||Unable to meet – relies on the ewe having body reserves to put into milk production|
The graph below shows energy requirements of lambing ewes. Source: www.agric.wa.gov.au
Elders offer a range of animal health products to support your flock throughout their lifecycle.
For more information and advice contact your local livestock production advisor.