Molasses blocks boost lamb survival rates, trial shows

DIANE BISHOP
Last updated 07:11 25/03/2014
Waikaka Valley farmers Barry and Julie Crawford have noticed improvements in lamb survival using Crystalyx Extra High Energy molasses blocks.
DIANE BISHOP/Fairfax NZ

LOOKING UP: Waikaka Valley farmers Barry and Julie Crawford have noticed improvements in lamb survival using Crystalyx Extra High Energy molasses blocks.

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Significant improvements in lamb survival have been demonstrated by using Crystalyx blocks in a University of Auckland trial in Southland.

Crystalyx Extra High Energy molasses blocks were provided as a supplement to ewes from three weeks prior to lambing through to weaning and resulting in an 11 per cent increase in lambs presented for docking, compared to the control flock.

Barry and Julie Crawford's Rosebank Farm, near Gore, was the venue for the trial to determine the benefits of targeted supplementation on triplet bearing ewes.

The Rosebank property is part of the FARMIQ programme.

The trial compared lamb survivability outcomes between a control mob on pasture only, against a mob fed a lucerne-grain based nut supplement, and a mob with access to Crystalyx Extra High Energy, sold through Ballance's animal nutrition division, SealesWinslow.

Crystalyx Extra High Energy contains a range of micro and macro nutrients in its molasses base critical in aiding the ewe's transition through the stressful lambing period.

The free access "little and often" stock intake provides an even intake profile through the animal's grazing day, lifting rumen function and with it animal performance.

Typical metabolic problems over the lambing period result from ewe energy and nutrient demand running ahead of her feed supply, and can be particularly acute in multiple bearing ewes.

Dr Mark Oliver, a researcher contracted to Auckland UniServices Limited by the University of Auckland oversaw all phases of the Southland trial with project co-ordinator Samantha Rossenrode.

Results from the trial indicated the ewes ingesting Crystalyx had lamb survivability of 79 per cent, compared to 78 per cent for the mob fed lucerne nuts and 68 per cent survivability on pasture only. While there was minimal difference in the survivability figure between the two treatments, there were key benefits at a practical level in feeding Crystalyx over nuts.

"There was, of course, the labour requirement to have to cart the nuts out every day for feeding," Barry Crawford said.

In contrast the solid lickable formulation of Crystalyx Extra High Energy made it ideal for "set and forget" in set stocking situations.

Ballance Agri-Nutrients animal nutrition product manager Jackie Aveling said the trial results offer some good news to sheep farmers seeking to boost ewe productivity.

While the nuts delivered a similar improvement in lamb survivability to Crystalyx, if they were fed out every day they would be uneconomic when labour costs were allowed for, compared to Crystalyx that delivered a benefit per ewe of $31.51.

Aveling said further work should be done on a system to provide nuts through the same period, using an alternative method such as a creep feeder to address aspects of using nuts as a supplement.

Mr Crawford said he intended to continue to use Crystalyx Extra High Energy in the future on his multiple bearing ewes over the lambing period.

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- The Southland Times

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