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How can lamb growth performance be maximized through fattening?

In sheep farms, fattening is a crucial step to achieve profitability. A recent study carried out by FEEDIA® ruminant experts confirmed the interest of CARNEO® BOOST, a solution based on essential oils, for optimizing lamb fattening performance.

lamb fattening performances sheep nutrition diet additive solutionThe fattening phase, a challenging period for lambs

All farms must aim for the best possible animal performance in order to achieve profitability. Sheep farms are no exception: the fattening phase is a crucial step for generating added value. The key is to maximize growth and efficiency, while limiting losses. However, the fattening phase is quite challenging. Lambs are subject to various stresses at that time that can have a significant impact on lamb performance, feed efficiency and feed cost margin.

Christophe Granier and Gwenaël Forgeard, ruminant engineers at FEEDIA® (TECHNA feed expertise division), ran a trial in 2016 to evaluate the effect of CARNEO® BOOST, a blend of essential oils and yeast, on lamb performance throughout weaning and the finishing period. The results of this study were presented during the last session of the French Ruminant Research Meeting which took place in Paris on December 5th-6th, 2018.

Comparison between three groups of lambs subject to different diets

This trial took place over three months. 3 groups of 30 lambs each (21 days old) were included, each one with similar profiles in terms of weight, range, litter size, NEC ewes... Each group was fed a specific diet:

  • Group control (C): a ‘regular’ concentrate for lambs
  • Group TEST 1 (T1): concentrate, the same as diet C + CARNEO® BOOST supplementation
  • Group TEST 2 (T2): concentrate "re-optimized", taking into account the values of CARNEO® BOOST, matrix.

Dose rate of additive was identical between test 1 and 2.

As part of these experiments, the lambs received straw and water ad libitum. The 3 groups were simultaneously conducted to the same building. The lambs were weighed every 15 days. Double weighing was carried out at weaning (70 to 80 days of age) and before slaughter.

The quantities of feed supplied were weighed, as were the refusals. Slaughter period was defined in order to achieve carcass weights of 18kg for males and 16kg for females. The carcasses were individually classified to one-third of class. The colour and fat firmness were noted 72 hours after slaughter.

Performance difference between the diets

The lambs were slaughtered at an average weight of 38kg (to meet the demand of the French market). Lambs fed CARNEO® BOOST reached slaughter weight two days earlier on average than the control group (107 or 111 days, vs 113 days for the control group).

CARNEO® BOOST improved growth performance throughout the trial: the ADG increased from 28 to 33 g / day, compared to the control group during the batching- slaughtering phase.

From weaning (70-80 days of age), differences were more marked when lambs were weaned and  did not have a milk intake. At the time of weaning, metabolic disturbances are likely to have appeared in the control group, leading to stress that could have hindered performances.

The FCR showed marked differences over the entire trial. However, diets did not affect carcass rankings, particularly in terms of conformation, fat and colour.

Better performance for two groups of lambs and a reduced feed cost

These results confirm the ability of CARNEO® BOOST to improve the growth performance of fattening lambs. In this trial, despite the good performance of animals in the control group, both of the CARNEO® BOOST groups had improved growth rates, as well as their feed efficiency (FCR).

In this trial, with similar weight at slaughter, the fattening time of both of the CARNEO® BOOST batches would be shortened by 7 days compared to the control group. With similar length of fattening, the CARNEO® BOOST groups would have had heavier carcass weight.

Economically, the return on investment is therefore greater than 5/1 with the CARNEO® BOOST T1 diet. The CARNEO® BOOST T2 diet reduced the feed cost by 7.5% compared to the control.

In conclusion, the use of CARNEO® BOOST secures the growth performance of the lambs and improves feed efficiency, which are crucial for maximizing the profitability of sheep farms. CARNEO® BOOST also has proven results in beef cattle. If you are a feed miller or nutritionist and looking for a product that increases the performance and profitability of fattening beef and sheep systems, contact our ruminant experts for further information!

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Promote growth and technical and economic performance of fattening beef cattle and lamb