Going to Grass

by: Dr. G.F. Kennedy

I am getting questions about going to grass. If sheep are in a dry lot and sent to pasture empty, they can overload much the same as when sheep consume too much grain accidentally. If it is early in the spring and its a grass pasture and sheep are full of hay or silage the chances of trouble are minimal. As the pasture becomes lush and if it contains legumes, turning ewes to grass can become a disaster. Sheep should never be sent to pasture empty and when starting on lush pasture should have limited access until the rumen bacteria adjust. Access to baking soda may help, for more information on baking soda please refer to that article. Bloat Guard blocks for first ten days maybe helpful and it is a good idea to have Therabloat available for treatment. Ewes that have recently been weaned should be given at least ten days to dry up prior to going to grass.

Another related mistake that can easily be made is when ewes and lambs have been running on grass and lambs have been on creep. When weaned, lambs have to be started over on grain or acidosis results because intake among lambs is inconsistent. Some may be doing well on milk and grass alone and are the rumen is not ready for free choice grain.

About Ask-a-Vet Sheep

Veterinary services, procedures, biologicals, and drugs mentioned in this publication represent the personal opinions and clinical observations of the contributing author. They are in no way intended to be interpreted as recommendations without the consent of the producer’s own practicing Veterinarian. We strongly urge that producers establish a patient-client-veterinarian relationship that allows extra-label use when there are no drugs approved for treatment or if approved drugs are not effective. This procedure allows veterinarians to go beyond label directions when “prudent use” is necessary. The limited availability of drugs and biologics in this country is a major factor in restricting the growth of the sheep industry and allowing producers to compete in the world market place.
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