Project number:                    61110048

Lead contractor:                    Lesley Stubbings

Start & end date:                   01 February 2016 – 31 October 2016

 

The Problem:

The last edition of the booklet ‘Feeding the Ewe’ was published by MLC in 1988. There has not only been a significant amount of research carried out since then but there have been some significant changes in the industry, for example heavier ewes and improved lamb growth rates. We also need to consider the economic impacts of any new recommendations, so information on the cost benefits of changing practices will be presented.

 

Aims and Objectives:

To provide a single, comprehensive and up to date resource to help producers, consultants and advisers improve the nutrition and hence productivity and profitability of sheep flocks. This information would be more detailed than currently available in the BRP manual.

 

Approach:

A workshop to discuss with a number of key experts within the industry. The workshop will involve mapping the content and structure of the manual as well as identifying priorities and practicalities of effective ewe nutrition.

A full literature review of the recent research and information on ewe nutrition.

AFBI research on ewe feeding currently happening in Northern Ireland will act as a core source of information to the manual.

A draft of the manual will then be ‘road tested’ on a small group of end users (consultants, vets, advisers and farmers) in a Focus Group format.

 

The updated booklet

Results:

Workshop of industry advisors on sheep nutrition was held at BSAS in April 2016 to discuss research and suggestions/agreement on what to include in the manual update. A questionnaire was also sent out to many industry representatives to ask about the order/layout of the manual as well as the importance of certain aspects of nutrition.

A full literature review was carried out to understand and gather all the most up to date research on ewe nutrition. Some was dated research that had not been reviewed since the last manual (1980s or earlier) but some key aspects had been researched and the detailed literature review enabled the recomendations in the manual to be scientifcally robust and based on research and practical experience on English farms. The literature review will be a seperate document available on the AHDB B&L website  to support the manual.

The final manual will be designed and laid out and made available to prodcuers, vets and advisers. Some hard copies will be made available but the publication will be mostly online, enabling updates to be done easily without incurring huge cost.

The project team provided suggestions on how best to promote the manual and KE opportunities to use the manual. These are being insitigated by having two train the trainer workshops. These workshops will be the authors training others in the industry to use the manual with the aim that they will then disseminate the messages.