Maize silage as a finisher feed for Merino lambs
A study was conducted to determine whether silage can be used as an ingredient in the finishing rations of Merino lambs. One of the concerns regarding the use of silage as the main ingredient of a sheep feed is its high moisture and neutral detergent fibre (NDF) content and relatively poor protein value. Forty lambs, in a four-way completely randomized block design, were used in a 60-day finishing study. The diets consisted of a control with no silage and three diets containing, on a dry matter (DM) basis 20%, 50% or 70% maize silage. With the exception of fibre (NDF and acid detergent fibre), all diets were formulated on an iso-nutrient level. Dry matter intake (DMI) decreased as the silage inclusion increased. This resulted in significant differences between the cumulative intake of the low and the high silage diets. The 20% and 50% silage diets resulted in higher dressing percentage than the control and 70% silage diet. It was concluded that silage can be successfully incorporated into sheep diets and that optimal inclusion levels need to be quantified within high specification feedlot diets.
Keywords: Feed intake, lamb growth, dressing percentage