If there are lambs remaining on the farm, a decision needs to be made whether to finish them or sell as stores, writes CAFRE's Nigel Gould.
The three main factors involved in this decision are lamb value as stores, the cost to finish them and the expected value of finished lambs, with the latter often being difficult to estimate.
If surplus grass is available on-farm, which may be the case this year where cattle were housed earlier, finishing off grass may be a viable option.
Lambs can gain 80-130 g per day at grass; however, performance is very much linked to sward quality, parasite control and the absence of prolonged periods of wet weather.
Creep feed can be offered to reduce the time to slaughter but this will cost more.
The other alternative is to house lambs and intensively finish indoors. Performance is increased and the feed conversion ratio can be 7.0-8.0 kg of concentrate to 1.0 kg of live weight gain, depending on the ration quality and lamb type.
A source of roughage in the diet is important for rumen function; allow a total dry matter intake of 4%.
Lambs can eat 1.5 kg of concentrate in an ad-lib system and have the potential to gain up to 250 g per day during the finishing period.
However, large variation will still occur between lambs. Avoid feeding ewe minerals due to the risk of urinary calculi in ram and wether lambs. Also, allow for veterinary costs and mortality.