Feeding Ewes in Good Seasons - Is it Economical?
By Dr Mackie Hobson BSc(Agric),BVSc

Thursday, 26th April 2018

Many kids die in the period just prior to birth up till approximately seven days after birth. Research has shown that up to 80 percent of these mortalities are associated with the ewe's nutrition during the last few weeks before kidding and the first few weeks after kidding. The quantity of colostrum available at kidding and milk production after kidding are the factors which play the most important part in kid survival as well as growth rate of kids.

Jan Hoon did some investigation to determine whether the effect of supplementing Angora goats, with various sources of protein, on production and reproduction has any economic advantages for the farmer. The study was conducted in the Cradock, Graaff-Reinet, Jansenville and Willowmore districts, which are representative of the different veld types, with one farmer in each district participating. The ewes were supplemented as below and compared to a control group.

  • Prior to kidding: Supplementation is given at 300g/ animal/ day
  • After kidding and 400g/ animal/day after kidding.

The various camps which are used are relatively homogeneous in respect of the quantity and quality of plant material and the size of the camps are also approximately the same.

Supplementation was maintained until eight weeks after the first ewe has kidded, which means a total feeding period of 12 weeks. When supplementation is discontinued, the ewes and kids of all three groups are run together again as one flock until weaning time.


Veld conditions were very good in all four localities during the mating season (March and April 2000). At two localities (Graaff-Reinet and Cradock) good rains fell during September and October 2000, the time when supplementation was given. This resulted in problems to maintain the recommended intake at these two localities.

Initial results indicated in GOOD VELD conditions:

Body Mass

  • From this information it seems as if there were relatively small differences in respect of both ewe and kid mass between the control group and area group during the 2000 kidding season. However, the bypass group showed better mass gains.

Kidding and weaning %

  • As regards kidding and weaning percentages, and kid mortalities, there were no differences between the three groups.

Over an extended period the study however indicated that there was a substantial response during POOR VELD conditions.

  1. A positive response with supplementation of ewes during late pregnancy and lactation on
  • body weight of ewes,
  • growth rate of lambs
  • weaning percentages.


  1. It would, however, appear that the response was only substantial when grazing conditions were relatively poor, in quality and/or quantity.
  2. Supplementation of ewes with a high bypass diet was also more profitable than a low bypass diet under less favourable grazing conditions.


Reference/Extracted from

Supplementing protein. Is It economical?

JAN HOON ,Grootfontein ADI, Middelburg (EC)


Protein supplementation of late pregnant and lactating sheep and Angora goats

in the different grazing areas of SA

 J.H. Hoon and M.J. Herselman

 Grootfontein A.D.I., Private Bag X529, Middelburg (EC)

© SA Mohair Growers - 2024 | Links | Feeding Ewes in Good Seasons - Is it Economical?

Website Design and Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) by ZAWebs Designs | Web Hosting by ZAWebs Hosting