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Camile

Sheep and silage

Good morning,

I was wondering if it was ok to feed the sheep with silage ?

because a friend of mine has dropped me a nice big round bale ... and that would basically feed them until lambing ..

what do you think ?

Thanks
Camile
Marionb

Well sheep certainly can eat sileage... not sure if its an acquired taste though..... our neighbour dropped some into our field a few years back... our sheep had never had sileage in their lives and turned their noses up at it big time... Very Happy Very Happy
Mary-Jane

Yes you can (and should) feed sheep silage in the winter when there's not a lot of grass about. It's best to put it in a feeder though because they can be a bit funny about eating off the ground if they haven't been used to it... Rolling Eyes We have a chap from one of the local farms come up with his tractor and lift the bale into the feeder for us.

Our in-lamb ewes are all on silage now - plus I give 'da boyz' an arm load each morning at the moment as there's not a lot of grass around.
Camile

Hi Mary-Jane and Marionb,

Thanks for that ...

The 2 (supposidellly in lamb) ewes and one store lamb are in a field of 2,5 acres.. with plenty of grass sort of .. and a nice line of edge all around it for them to avail of.

But indeed I was feeding them some hay until .. let's stay a 25kg bag full of it about once a day or every other day depending on the weather. Gives them some fiber and warms them up in cold weather.

I was putting it on the ground or just hanging roughly on the brambles.

And this bale is dropped by the edge, with a cut about half way up so the silage is still wrap, but they can get at it.

And so far it seems that they nibbled on it ... so fingers crossed they will eat it.

At least I know now that I won't be killing them.

Thanks again,
Camile
Mary-Jane

That sounds fine - although with only the 3 of them in a 2.5 acre field they should really have enough grass, along with some daily feed like sheep nuts. But it's no problem giving them silage. Do be warned that silage does make them very thirsty though - do check the water holders every day.

You may want to think about investing in a silage feeder like this otherwise you can end up with a lot of wasted silage. We have two - I think they were about 65 squid each.

Camile

Hi again,

I think they do have enough grass .. because they don't come rushing after me for feeding time ..

I'm feeding them mainly when the ground is frozen therefore they ain't got much to eat until it thaws.

And I now them feeders, the farmers around use them for cattle .. I just see that these one the sides are lower for the sheep to get at it isn't it ?

Camile
Mary-Jane

Camile wrote:
the sides are lower for the sheep to get at it isn't it ?


Yes - it's a more compact design for sheep. They are worth the money and if you look after them they last forever.
Louisdog

Is silage supposed to be used up within a few days of opening? Or am I thinking of haylage? Or just dreaming :-p
Camile

I think you are right indeed, someone just told me it would last for about 3 weeks before being unusable as a food .. shame really.

Camile
Louisdog

Yeah we don't have enough sheep to get through a bale; shame Sad
Mary-Jane

Louisdog wrote:
Is silage supposed to be used up within a few days of opening?


I'm pretty sure that once opened a bit, you need to open up the whole lot for air circulation or else it could rot and be useless.
Camile

Would anyone know of any other uses for silage other than feedstuff ?
Camile

Mary-Jane wrote:
Louisdog wrote:
Is silage supposed to be used up within a few days of opening?


I'm pretty sure that once opened a bit, you need to open up the whole lot for air circulation or else it could rot and be useless.


Ok so I shoulg go and open up the bale fully isn't it ?

will simply put the plastic back on it to keep the rain out of it.

Camile
mihto

With the climate on our coast the coming of silage was a blessing. We use good quality silage as the normal feed for sheep when they are indoors, giving them a bit of hay as a treat if it is available.

If the silage is of second-rate quality we sometimes see listeriosis, however. I would certainly feed them silage, but keep an eye on them. They myst have enough of the silage to be able to sort out the rougher bits. Feed that would go down easily in cattle may not be eaten by the more choosy sheep.
Mary-Jane

Camile wrote:
Ok so I shoulg go and open up the bale fully isn't it ?

will simply put the plastic back on it to keep the rain out of it.


To be honest, now you've opened it, the bale will start to go off fairly quickly I'm afraid. It's not like hay which is dry and won't go off.

You could try simply taking an armful out each day and then re-sealing it - but once the air has got to it the silage will start to degrade. Our neighbours, who are very experienced sheep keepers and breeders are also of the view that it reaches the point where the silage won't actually be very good for the sheep either because microbes will have got into it which can cause problems.

Unfortunately a big bale is far too much for the 3 you have. You'd have been better off with small bales, or sweet hay.
Camile

I only took the bale simply because that friend wanted to be nice, and said why not, because I didn't really needed it.

What I'll do is take out a good amount of it for the sheep, and give the rest to a friend with cattle .. so it won't be wasted and will most probably get some hay in return.

So will use it as best as I can ..

Thanks again for the advices, much appreciated.

Camile
Mary-Jane

Camile wrote:
I only took the bale simply because that friend wanted to be nice, and said why not, because I didn't really needed it.

What I'll do is take out a good amount of it for the sheep, and give the rest to a friend with cattle .. so it won't be wasted and will most probably get some hay in return.


Ah I see. Well, that sounds like a good plan you've come up with. In any event Camile, provided your grass on the 2.5 acres is half decent, that's all they need at the moment - other than when it's snowing, in which case revert to hay and sheep nuts.
Cathryn

If they are ewe lambs do not feed it as they are much more prone to listeriosis than ewes. If there is soil in it, they will get listeria in it and will die, so take care.

If the sheep are about to lamb then it might not be a good idea to change their feed at this point, unless of course you are feeding them on cake rather than a high forage diet.



(And yes, this is being dictated to me by my sheep farmer. Wink )
Camile

Cathryn wrote:
If they are ewe lambs do not feed it as they are much more prone to listeriosis than ewes. If there is soil in it, they will get listeria in it and will die, so take care.

If the sheep are about to lamb then it might not be a good idea to change their feed at this point, unless of course you are feeding them on cake rather than a high forage diet.



(And yes, this is being dictated to me by my sheep farmer. Wink )


Well one of them is a 2007 ewe lamb, so a hogget I think.

The other ewe is on her 2nd lambing now, she's going towards 3 I think, as she wasn't tupped the first year.

The last one is a ram ;amb, from last year and is fattening for the freezer.

And there are about 6 weeks to lamb for one of them, I think she's due about a week or two after paddy's day.

and until now they were fed on a bit of hay, and whatever they can graze. No nuts no nothing.

Will they be ok then ?

Camile
Mary-Jane

I'm sure they'll be fine Camile. Where you have 4 sheep farmers standing in a field together you'll get 5 different opinions! Laughing

Why don't you ask a sheep farmer local to you what s/he thinks and follow their advice? We, of course, are all telling you what we'd do where we live.
ariana

A good quality bale of silage (ie. dryish, not muddy, not mouldy and smelling good) will, once unwrapped, whether partially or fully, last for up a fortnight before it sours and starts to heat, depending on the weather. Haylage will keep longer, providing it is fed under cover.

A very general rule of thumb is that a good, well packed bale will feed 100 sheep for one day. (Although if, like us you have 100 sheep, it is better to put out four bales to last four days)
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