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Confinement Feeding and Deferred Grazing

Key Messages:

  • Confinement feeding pregnant ewes prior to lambing allows farmers precision management of their lambing and pasture systems.

Project Aim:

The Facey Group is collaborating with the local producers, Tom Wittwer and Audrey Bird, to demonstrate the production and economic benefits of confinement feeding pregnant ewes before lambing. Through this MLA funded project, we hope to help and support other producers who are interested in this production system. Benefits will be demonstrated by collecting and extending production and economic data to encourage producer adoption in the Wickepin and surrounding regions.

Project Background: 

Confinement feeding has been gaining traction in the South West of WA, driven by the inconsistent timing of an autumn break and the decline in growing season rainfall. These seasonal changes have produced a challenge for producers to balance pasture management and livestock nutrition in autumn while maintaining a profitable livestock enterprise. The increasing regularity of dry autumns results in delayed pasture germination and increased risk for pastures to be overgrazed, resulting in inadequate feed availability leading up to and over the lambing period. This is when ewe nutrition and pasture availability can strongly determine lamb survival and lifetime ewe performance.

Confinement feeding, although similar to feed lotting, differs in its aim to maintain the body condition score of sheep rather than increasing body weight. Innovative producers in WA have experienced great success with supplementary feeding pregnant ewes in confinement. This provides targeted nutrition while deferring grazing of pastures until feed on offer and ewe nutritional requirements over the critical lambing period can be matched.  This strategy can optimise pasture resource allocation, ewe nutrition, and ewe and lamb survival.

Further Information

Project Start Date: February 2023

Project End Date: February 2025

Funding Body: Meat and Livestock Australia

Host Farmers:

  • Audrey Bird, Windorah Farms
  • Tom and Wendy Wittwer, NH Wittwer and Co

Useful Links/Resources:

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Contact Us

Phone: (08) 9888 1223

Facey Group Inc
40 Wogolin Rd
Wickepin, WA 6370
Postal: PO Box 129,
Wickepin, WA 6370