A Commercial sheep farm for lamb fattening can be achieved on a small landholding. Basically proper care and management with limited irrigation is required.
Commercial farms for fat lamb production should be taken up in areas with assured rainfall or irrigation resource over a great part of the year as well as salubrious environment. The flock size will depend on the area of irrigated land or developed pasture land available.
While about 15 to 20 high-producing-mutton sheep per acre can be conveniently maintained on an irrigated land, a good rainfall area may carry 6 to 7 sheep per acre. Most of the northern breeds of the temperate region.
Mutton synthetic strains evolved through crossbreeding the ewes of these breeds with the rams of Dorset and Suffolk (the two exotic mutton breeds) and stabilizing exotic inheritance at 5O percent level have proved superior to native breeds in quantity and quality of meat produced and efficiency of feed conversion.
The mutton sheep require much better housing facilities than the wool sheep because they do not have good wool covering on their body, are heavy, and are larger in size.
The intensive system of sheep production is required also because the flocks are most of the time maintained indoors and under staU feeding. Separate feeding pens tor dry (breeding), pregnant and lactating ewes should be provided, with sufficient space provided for feeding and watering troughs and for moving and exercising.
Feedlot pens depending on the number of male lambs expected during each of the breeding seasons should also be erected. A floor space of 1 to 1.1 sq m sheep should be provided. The roofing may be made of asbestos or of locally available thatching material with angle iron or wooden poles.
A few lambing and handling pens should also be made. Hay racks for feeding harvested fodders and galvanized sheet/wooden or cemented doughs for feeding concentrates and watering should be provided.
A foot-bath may also be provided at the entrance of the shed. Provision for an open corral for exercising of the animals is a must for the flock in general, and the feedlot Iambs, in particular, require sufficient exercising.
Facilities for a permanent or portable dipping tank and a shearing shed may also be created in case the number of ewes maintained for breeding is large.
Feeding of Adult Animals
The mutton sheep require improved pastures, cultivated cereal fodders and legumes, grain, and oilseed milling byproducts as concentrates for intensive feeding. If sufficient land for growing cultivated fodders or pastures is not available, the sheep should be supplemented with concentrates to the extent of 300 g per head per day during last 45 days of pregnancy, with 400 g per head day during first 60 days of lactation and with 250 g/head/day for flushing.
The breeding rams should be provided with a 400 g per day concentrate mixture during the breeding season. Crop residues could also be improved in their nutritive value through treatment with certain fungi, ammoniation using urea-steam treatment with/without the addition of urea and molasses, and pelleting. Roughage feeding should be done at night especially during summer to avoid heat increment due to rumen fermentation.
Feeding of Lambs
The mutton lambs require intensive feeding to allow exploitation of their growth potential. Maximum growth during the preweaning period is very important for the subsequent growth of the lamb.
From birth to 3 weeks of age the lamb has a non-ruminant stomach and feeding during this period should be mostly on milk through suckling or feeding of milk substitutes.
From 3 weeks to 2 months of age, it is a transition phase, during which rumen development takes place. A creep feed should be fed to lambs as early as 2 weeks of age so that they would consume more energy and also the rumen development could be faster.
In addition to ad-lib. Feeding of cultivated fodder as green or hay concentrate feed should also be given. The concentrate feed should contain a higher proportion of grains like maize, barley, and sorghum. It should also contain fish-meal or meat-meal at a level of about 5 percent along with mineral mixture and vitamins to ensure good growth.
The digestible crude protein content should be about 14 to 16 percent Composition of a typical creep ration is maize or barley, 60.0; groundnut-cake, 15.0; fish- and meat-meal, 5.0; wheat bran, 17.0; mineral mixture, 2.0; common salt, 1.0; and vitamins mixture, @ 25 g per quintal of feed.
The lambs on average consume 200-250 g creep ration per head per day from the 15th day of age to the 90th day of age under ad-lib. feeding, and grow @ 125-150 g in natives and 175-200 g per head per day in mutton crossbreds.
After weaning there is a depression in growth for the first 2-3 weeks which should be avoided by ensuring good development of the rumen by appropriate feeding management during the preweaning period.
The lambs weaned completely at 90 days of age should be supplemented with 500 g concentrate mixture in addition to grazing for 8 hours on grass-legume pasture or fed ad-lib. on cultivated leguminous fodder as green and/or hay in the stalls up to the age of 6 months.
Fed in this manner they can reach about 24-25 kg body weight in the indigenous breeds and 30 kg in crossbreds at 180 days of age. When a good grass-legume pasture is not available weaned lambs should be kept under stall-feeding.
Under the intensive feeding, the lambs are maintained totally under stall-feeding. They are offered ad-lib. complete feeds comprising concentrates and roughages. A complete feed with concentrate: roughage ratio of 50:50 is most economical for fat lamb production. Among roughages, cowpea, berseem, and lucerne hay-meals.
A feedlot gain of about 150 g in natives and 200 g per head per day in mutton crossbreds can be easily achieved by feeding a 50:50 concentrate roughage complete feed.
Lamb fattening recipe
The mutton ewes grazing on Cenchrus ciliaris pasture for 8 hours a day, were supplemented with 300 g of concentrate mixture per head per day during the last 45 days of pregnancy, and with 400 g of concentrate mixture per head per day during the first 60 days of lactation.
The lambs born weighed about 2.50-2.75 kg in natives and 3.0 to 3.5 kg in crossbreds at birth. Lambs were allowed suckling and ad-lib. creep ration and a little green fodder in the form of lucerne, cowpea, or pearl millet from 10 days to 60 days of age. They were completely weaned thereafter.
The lambs on average consumed 150-200 g of creep ration per head per day during this period and attained a weaning weight of about 12-13 kg in native and 14-15 kg in crossbreds.
These lambs were then put on a feedlot for 90 days and offered ad-lib. A complete feed comprising 50 percent concentrate and 50 percent roughage.
They reached a live weight of 24-25 kg in native and 28-30 kg in crossbreds at the age of 150 days. The average dressing percentage of lambs slaughtered at this age was 50-52 and bone: meat ratio 1:4.5 to 1:5.0.
The composition of a typical feedlot ration is given below
|Cowpea hay or leaf-meal||50|
|Maize or barley||30|
|Vitablend AD3||25 g/quintal |
For maximizing mutton production, mutton sheep should be bred in such a way that when the lambing takes place the weather should be neither too hot nor too cold, and the lamb crop is available during a very limited period.
Breeding during March-April, resulting in lambing in July-August, and their marketing by December-January would be most profitable.
Since the mutton sheep will be maintained on good grass-legume pasture or on cultivated leguminous fodder, their flushing through supplementary concentrate for getting more ewes conceived is not necessary.
For improving mutton production and quality, crossbreeding indigenous breed with exotic mutton breeds like Dorset and Suffolk is recommended.
However, the performance of these exotic breeds in respect of libido and semen quality is not very good in hot semi-arid regions. These breeds may preferably be maintained in the temperate or sub-temperate climatic conations, and they’re crossbred maintained in the arid and semi-arid regions.
If the exotic rams are to be used in arid and semi-arid areas, these may be maintained only at artificial insemination centers or government farms where they may be properly housed, preferably with arrangement for artificial cooling at least through forced air circulation during summer, fed and managed well with respect to health cover and hygiene, etc.