Lamb production with fermented forage 2019-2020

In late fall of 2018, Bio Minerals Technologies began a gestational experiment using sheep and fermented forage. In the 2019 lambing season, we had 70-80 pound lambs in just three months with nothing but fermented forage. After the lambs were sold in 2019, we combined the two groups and continued the experiments without any feed differentiation (all fermented forage, no juniper supplements).

2020 Results

For the 2020 season, even though we did not separate them or differentiate the diet, we still tracked the results of the two groups separately via the color of their ear tags. In 2019, we had 9 lambs born to 9 ewes, with one still-birth. In 2020, we had a total of 22 lambs born to 12 ewes. We had 10 sets of twins and two singles. Two of the twins were stillborn and one of the singles. We also lost one ewe.

Group Y (yellow ear tags) had 9 lambs from five ewes, with an average birthweight of 15 lbs. While significantly larger, we had no stillbirths in this group. Group Y bore the most lambs last year with six out of seven ewes (though they were all singles). This year we had 4 sets of twins and one single. One ewe gave birth to twins that weighed 17.6 lbs and 15.6 lbs, without assistance. The lambs were all weighed again on August 20, 2020. We had three lambs at 17 weeks with an average weight of 89.3 lbs.

Group B (blue ear tags) had a total of 13 lambs from seven ewes, but all three of the stillborn lambs were from that group. Last year, group B only had three ewes bear lambs (they were the Juniper group). Four of the seven ewes had their first lambs this year (all twins). The average live birth weight in group B was 13.3 lbs. At the August 20 weighing, six of the lambs were 17 weeks old and weighed an average of 90 lbs.

Adolescent lambs on fermented forage Lambs and ewes on fermented forage

You can see from the pictures in this article that the lambs are large, healthy, and well-formed, with many of them almost as large as their mothers. When they are all mixed together, it can be a challenge to tell them apart from a distance.

The Numbers

The table below shows the birth weights and gains for each of the lambs born this year.

Tag # Birthdate Gender Birth weight (#) 8/20/20 weight (#) Notes
Y1-A 4/24/2020 F 12 60 Maimed by dog at birth - 3 legs
Y1-B 4/24/2020 F n/a   Killed by dog at birth
Y3-A 4/26/2020 M 13.4 81.1  
Y3-B 4/26/2020 M 16 90.3  
Y7-A 4/28/2020 F 16.3 96.5  
Y4-A 5/2/2020 M 14 78.6  
Y4-B 5/2/2020 M 15.4 81.9  
Y6-A 5/24/2020 M 17.6 60.1  
Y6-B 5/24/2020 M 15.6 56.6  
Average Birth Weight 15.04 89.3 17 wk average (excludes Y1-A)
        80.25 16 wk average
        58.35 13 wk average
Tag # Birthdate Gender Birth weight (#) 8/20/20 weight (#) Notes
B1-A 4/26/2020 n/a n/a   Stillborn
B1-B 4/26/2020 F 14 87.2  
B2-A 4/26/2020 F 13 n/a Mained by dog - given to vet
B2-B 4/26/2020 F 12.1 90  
B3-A 4/27/2020 M 13 99.1  
B3-B 4/27/2020 n/a n/a   Stillborn
B5-A 4/28/2020 F 12.3 89  
B5-B 4/28/2020 M 13.4 86.4  
B7-A 5/5/2020 M 13 71.1  
B7-B 5/5/2020 F 12.6 60.3  
B6-A 5/8/2020 n/a 16   Stillborn
B4-A 5/30/2020 F 13.2 49.1  
B4-B 5/30/2020 M 14 56  
Average Birth Weight 13.33 90.34 17 wk average
        80.25 16 wk average
        58.35 13 wk average

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