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Early weaning lambs – A financially sound decision?

Every single day of weight loss during weaning, adds three days for a lamb to reach its target weight for joining or marketing.

A good weaning system is essential to the development of young animals to help them become high functioning ruminants. Management through weaning, delivers benefits now and into the future: 

  • Time saving 
  • Increased return on capital 
  • Increased carrying capacity 
  • Optimising the genetic potential of offspring 

The combination of the above, means a lower cost of gain, and higher profit

Poor weaning and late weaning can affect ruminal development. Once lambs reach 12 weeks of age the ability to influence ruminal development decreases considerably.  

A newborn lamb isn’t developed to ferment like a ruminant yet and their digestive system is primarily designed to digest milk.  Over time, as their diet changes, their rumen develops to ferment feed, which will then provide about 80% of the protein and energy of the animal for the rest of its life. 

There’s a timeline that you have the opportunity to influence the size of the function in the surface area of the rumen and so getting in early will give you a greater level of influence on these animals.  

For the most effective development, we should be feeding a diet designed to develop the rumen to its optimum, such as ProTect S Wean.

Focusing on the ruminal development for transition of milk eaters to hard feeders, drives efficiency through the production system, and minimise loss of production and future breeding time resulting from a poor weaning process.   

So, a lamb that goes backwards for 10 days while walking fences looking for nutrition and not being well managed through weaning, affectively adds another month to the production cycle for it to be at the same stage. 

Following lambing, we only have a finite amount of green feed before the first hot northerly winds hit in potentially September and the annuals, so the clovers in the Rye grass really run to seed or basically melt in that hot weather.   

Early weaning lambs and getting them to take maximum advantage of high-quality feed to maximise their weight gain and reduce time to market and also time to join your next ewe is really important, and better utilisation of your grass capital.

When you’ve weaned you have nearly halved your stocking density. The amount of energy required for ewes to produce milk is nearly twice as much as it takes to feeding Ewe and Lamb separately.  This could mean opportunity trading, and carrying more stock, or provide more grass for longer. 

While it seems a burden to early weaning in a season where it is good, removing a lamb off its mum early, is a management decision for improving productivity and throughput, and overall building more efficiency into your production system.   

Want to know more?
Contact your closest ProAgni supplier or contact Lachlan Campbell on 0428 467 441

Find a supplierCheck out the ProTect S Wean datasheet

ProTips on weaning

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videos on imprinting
and weaning preparation