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Supplementary feeding for sheep

Supplementary feeding is the additional supply of feed containing energy, protein or vitamins and minerals to grazing sheep that may be lacking in the pasture. It is important to ensure that the whole diet of the animal, including supplement and pasture, is balanced.

Supplementary feeding can be used to meet the nutritional needs of sheep at varying stages of their life, to increase their consumption of dry pasture, specific nutrients, or to improve growth rate, fertility, meat production or wool quality. Nutritional needs of sheep vary depending on age, size, pregnancy and lactation.

Feeding supplements has benefits and costs. If used effectively to overcome a nutritional deficiency or meet additional nutritional needs, the result can be healthy sheep that grow, reproduce, rear offspring and produce quality wool. However, supplementation can be expensive, time consuming and, if done incorrectly, can have severe impacts on the health of the sheep, even resulting in death.

This guide explains when and how to use supplementary feeding to improve production and keep sheep farms viable in dry season or drought. It will also help you decide when supplementation is likely to be cost-effective.