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Finishing of store lambs on silage based diets 2. influence of breed type lamb weight and length of the finishing period on feed intake and lamb performance



Finishing of store lambs on silage based diets 2. influence of breed type lamb weight and length of the finishing period on feed intake and lamb performance



Irish Journal of Agricultural Research 25(3): 347-362



In two experiments two cuts of silage from a perennial ryegrass/white clover sward were either untreated, treated with formic acid or wilted for 24 h prior to ensiling with a double-chop harvester. The silages were fed ad lib to lowland store lambs and supplemented with concentrates at 0, 350 or 700 g/lamb/day, using 24 lambs per treatment. Galway and Suffolk-.times. lambs were compared on each treatment. Each breed type was subdivided into heavy and light lambs. Half of the lambs within each subgroup were slaughtered on either of two dates: at weeks 7 or 11 in Experiment 1 (cut 1) and at weeks 8 or 12 in Experiment 2 (cut 2). There was no difference between the breeds in feed intake, liveweight gain or carcass gain in either experiment. However, the Galway lambs achieved higher rates of empty-body weight and offal-weight gain and a reduction in gut fill compared with the Suffolk-.times. lambs. In Experiment 1 the heavy lambs consumed more silage than did the lighter lambs and had higher rates of empty-body-weight and offal weight gain. In Experiment 2, however, the light lambs consumed as much silage as the heavy lambs and performed better. There was little difference between the two slaughter groups in either experiment in terms of feed intake, daily liveweight or empty-body-weight gain. However, the lambs slaughtered at 11-12 weeks had higher rates of carcass weight gain, lower rates of offal weight gain and an increase in gut fill compared with those slaughtered at 7-8 weeks. Practically all of the increase in offal weight in both breeds occurred over the first 7-8 weeks whereas 60% of the carcass gain in the lambs slaughtered at 11-12 weeks occurred over the final 4 weeks. The responses in liveweight or carcass weight gain to supplementing the silages with concentrates were not greatly affected by the breed type, weight of lamb or length of the finishing period in either experiment. The feeding capacity (lamb days/ha) for the two silage cuts was similar for both breeds and slaughter groups but was 5% higher for the light than for the heavy lambs. Lamb production in terms of carcass gain/ha was similar for both breeds but was much better for the light than for the heavy lambs (+107 kg; +31%) and for the lambs slaughtered at 11-12 weeks than at 7-8 weeks (+186 kg; +62%). Production of empty-body-weight gain/ha was higher for the Galway than for the Suffolk-.times. lambs (+48%).

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