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Research article2016Peer reviewed

Effects of grass silage feed value on feed intake and performance of pregnant and lactating ewes and their lambs

Nadeau, E.; Arnesson, A.; Helander, C.


Effects of grass silage feed value on intake, dietary sorting, body condition (BC) and body weight (BW) of pregnant and lactating ewes and on liveweight gain (LWG) of their suckling lambs were evaluated. Twin-bearing ewes were fed adlibitum grass silage of (i) high feed value (HFV), (ii) medium feed value (MFV) and (iii) low feed value (LFV), plus 0·8kg concentrate in late pregnancy and lactation. The HFV, MFV and LFV silages contained 11·7, 10·8 and 9·3 MJ metabolizable energy (ME) kg-1 DM respectively. The HFV resulted in 8·2 and 15·2 MJ greater ME intake in pregnancy and 14·7 and 21·0 MJ greater ME intake from silage in lactation than MFV and LFV respectively (P<0·01). Ewes fed the MFV and LFV silages sorted for more digestible particles during eating (P<0·10). The HFV gave no loss in BC, whereas ewes fed MFV and LFV lost 0·7 and 0·8 units of BC, respectively, during lactation (P<0·10). There were similar trends in BW. The nursing HFV lambs had 73 g higher daily LWG than the LFV lambs (P<0·01). In conclusion, the HFV increased the ME intake of pregnant and lactating ewes, resulting in improved BC and BW of lactating ewes and LWG of suckling lambs compared to MFV and LFV.


digestibility; forage; intake; liveweight gain; sheep

Published in

Grass and Forage Science
2016, Volume: 71, number: 3, pages: 448-457