In sheep farms, fattening is a crucial step to achieve profitability. A recent study carried out by Techna confirmed the interest of Elensis, a solution based on essential oils, for optimising lamb fattening performance.
The 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 maximise 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.
Techna ran a trial in 2016 to evaluate the effect of Elensis, a blend of essential oils and yeast, on lamb performance throughout weaning and the finishing period.
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 TEST 1 (T1): concentrate, the same as diet C + Elensis® supplementation
- Group TEST 2 (T2): concentrate "re-optimized", taking into account the values of Elensis®, matrix.
Dose rate of the additive was identical between test 1 and 2.
As part of these research, 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 into 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 Elensis reached slaughter weight two days earlier on average than the control group (107 or 111 days, vs 113 days for the control group).
Elensis 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 Elensis to improve the growth performance of fattening lambs. In this trial, despite the good performance of animals in the control group, both of the Elensis 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 Elensis® batches would be shortened by 7 days compared to the control group. With similar length of fattening, the Elensis groups would have had heavier carcass weight.
Economically, the return on investment is therefore greater than 5/1 with the Elensis® T1 diet. The Elensis® T2 diet reduced the feed cost by 7.5% compared to the control.
In conclusion, the use of Elensis secures the growth performance of the lambs and improves feed efficiency, which is crucial for maximising the profitability of sheep farms. Elensis® also has proven results in beef cattle. If you are a feed miller or nutritionist 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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