Feed costs are the make or break of any sheep farm! Without food, ewes cannot produce, but it comes at a price!

Of course what she eats is directly dependent on whether she is farmed extensively, intensively or semi-intensively.

We made our choice. Although many of our ewes currently run on leased land and only come to lamb at LANDRANI®, our plan is to house all our ewes permanently at LANDRANI® during the next 12 months. This is going to be the only way we are going to be able to scale going forward.

To do this we must be able to feed them more cheaply, which is precisely the theme of today’s “Story”.

What drives feed costs up:

  1. Value chain and transport
  2. Improper nutrition
  3. Waste and exhaustion
  4. Variability of raw material availability

Nutritional Risks:

  1. Insufficient nutrients
  2. Insufficient volume
  3. Uneven intake
  4. Poor quality
  5. Poisoning (Urea)

Our strategy:

  1. Precision feeding
  2. Zero waste
  3. Correct nutrients per production/growth phase
  4. Nutrient enrichment of cheaper raw materials

Our solution:

  1. Automated “smart” feeders
  2. Own FeedBlock Feeding System
  3. Increasing the Protein of Wheat Straw

Our “smart” feeders, connected to cloud computing, feed our animals pills according to their nutritional needs. The system monitors how much each group eats and adjusts the feeding accordingly. This automatic feeding system is ideal for growing animals such as young ewes and ram lambs. Our young ewes move through several pens, each with an automated feeder, which adjusts their nutrition as they get older.

Smart Feeder

However, feeding mature ewes is more challenging. Their daily feed requirements are less, and the use of pills can cause problems as some animals eat faster than others.

After a lot of research, I developed a system that makes forage blocks, which promotes a more balanced intake among the ewes. Once again I make use of an intelligent computer system connected to the “cloud”. This system adjusts the composition and size of the FeedBlocks based on the number of ewes in a pen and their specific feeding phase.

Furthermore, this process led to the improvement of the nutritional value of forage through a process where urease hydrolyzes urea to ammonia and carbon dioxide, which the animal’s metabolism then uses to synthesize amino acids. Through this process, we have been able to significantly increase wheat straw’s protein content, which helps us feed the ewes more efficiently. I am attaching below the results where we increased wheat straw’s 4% protein to 11.9%, 16% and 18.7% respectively.

The raw materials for all 3 of these results are exactly the same. All that differed was the ratio of moisture. The more moisture the better the hydrolysis. Of course moisture brings its own challenges namely mycotoxins (mold). We limit this by keeping air out as well as applying mycotoxin binders and natural preservatives.

By following this approach we feed the ewes in their dry and pregnant phases at a saving of 30%, which makes the sum look significantly better.

Click here to see results


Next week we focus on the second hurdle: Weaning percentage
 
Regards,
Pieter