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Study of feed management in the Latxa and Carranzana dairy ewes: communal pastures utilization and indoors supplementation

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Authors: L.M. Oregui, J. Garro, M.S. Vicente, M.V. Bravo
Issue: 93A-3 (173-182)
Topic: Animal Production
Keywords: dairy ewe, Latxa, production system, mountain utilization, indoor feeding

The nutrition management of the dairy sheep breeds Latxa and Carranzana has been studied by mensual survey during two productive seasons, in 16 flocks. The mountain period lengths 121±23 and 180±53 days (p<0.001) for milked and not milked ewes, respectively. The shifting of milked ewes, after the dry‑off, is related (r = 0.51; p<0.01) to the mean lambing date of their flock. This mean lambing date also affects the length of this mountain period (r = 0.50; p = 0.01). The not milked ones begin this mountain season two months earlier and independently of the flock mean lambing date. The return to the farm seat, during autumn and 78±16 days before the flock mean lambing date, takes place at the same time for all ewes of the flock. In the mountain period grazing is not guided by shepherds. The supplementation at the end of pregnancy, not longer than one month, is a common practice. Its importance is very different between flocks as well as between years in each flock. In this period the grazing time is cut down and at the beginning of lactation is practically inexistent. Along the suckling and beginning of milking the parlour ration contributes, as average, for a more than 80% of ewes' necessities, but it is variable between flocks. This high indoor feeding strategy allows to assure the establishment of lactation. As milking period progress, indoor feeding decreases quickly, both in absolute values and in relation to necessities. This reduction is more remarkable for the forages, parallel to the increase of grazing time. The observed differences in indoor feeding between flocks, both in total quantities and schedule of distribution, are related to their productive calendar and their geographical location.

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