One of the main keys to a successful sheep farm is investing in the best sheep feeding equipment for your flock. Sheep feeding ias very important if you want your lambs to grow into healthy sheep with good weight, quality meat and quality wool. In most communities, farmers feed their sheep the old fashioned way; letting them graze or feeding them on the ground. This is not recommended as it can lead to feed wastage and faster spread of disease and parasites. To avoid this, feeders have become a necessity for all livestock enterprises. However, feeders must be constructed properly to be effective. They need to be accessible to all your sheep and raised off the ground enough to avoid the sheep getting on and urinating on the food.
Types of Feeders
1. Creep Feeders
A creep feeder allows lambs to enjoy highly palatable, high energy feed without allowing ewes to eat the special feed. Grains are fed in a self-feeder placed in a special enclosure. The openings can only allow the lambs, and not the ewes, to enter and have a feast. This system is great for feeding lamb and to help in their growth and development. However, Some provisions are needed to keep the lambs from climbing into the feeding trough such as placing a board over a portion of the feeder to make it difficult for the lambs to climb.
2. Bunk Feeders
There are several bunk designs that are perfect for feeding finishing lambs and the confinement of production operations. Bunks are placed within sheep lots or along a fence. Bunks can be made of concrete, wood, plastic, or metal. Whichever material you use, the bunks need to be sturdy enough to withstand any pressure placed on them by the sheep.
3. Hay Feeders
Forages and Hay can be fed in simple feeders constructed from stock panels or by placing the hay next to an opening in your fence. The openings in the vertical panels should be about 20cm wide to allow the animals to get their heads through the openings. If you are feeding large square bales or large diameter round bales, you must bring it closer periodically as the sheep eat.
4. Watering Troughs
Watering troughs are just as important as the other seep feeding equipment. Sheep need moderate amounts of water, usually about ½ to 4 gallons of water daily, for optimum production. A simple water trough is adequate in most sheep farms in moderate and warm climates. But, in areas with frequent cold temperatures, you need a trough that heats water. There are commercial waterers available that can do that job.
Spacing requirements depend on whether it is a ram, ewe, or ewe with lambs. A ram will need 12 inches of space to feed properly. Dry ewes need 16-20 inches of space, which is the same as ewes with lambs. Lambs, being smaller in size, will need 9-12 inches of space.
All feedstuffs such as hay, grain, salt, or minerals must be kept in a dry place free from rodents and pests. Unprotected hay gets spoilt quickly when exposed to the external elements. Hay should be stored in hay lofts, sheds, or covered with tarps. Investing in good storage will help you save since you can buy feed in bulk.