Verity Hyland is working with five other Harper Adams University students to investigate the effect of body condition score (BCS) and level of protein supply on ewe and lamb performance, as part of an EBLEX-sponsored trial.
The 22-year-old is specifically looking at the yield and composition of colostrum and milk, with 48 twin-bearing ewes housed in four different treatment groups.
Throughout an initial 10-week trial, the ewes were housed individually from six weeks pre-lambing to four weeks post-lambing, and fed ad-lib straw and an iso-energetic concentrate formulated to supply different levels of digestible undegradable protein (DUP) supply.
Miss Hyland, a member of Calderdale Young Farmers Club, said: “The protein requirements of ewes increases dramatically during late pregnancy and early lactation and I’m hoping that the results will show that ewes will respond to additional protein supply above currently accepted requirements, and that this response may vary depending on the ewes’ initial BCS.
“Potentially this could help sheep farmers to have an improved understanding of how much protein is required during this key nutritional period. This could then lead to improved lamb survival rate as well as improved efficiencies and cost savings.”
Previous industry research has shown that higher levels of protein and energy are needed by ewes during the later stages of pregnancy to allow for lamb growth, udder development and colostrum production.