A NEW labour saving feed block is being introduced specifically formulated to support stock grazing on marginal land.

Rumenco technical manager, David Thornton, said the challenges faced by hill farmers when trying to maintain ewes' condition on variable quality forage in upland areas, was the reason behind the move.

"Although grazing has generally been plentiful due to mild weather this autumn and ewes are looking in good condition, it's extremely important to maintain this in advance of lambing.

"This can be a challenge for those running upland flocks, as grazing can be fibrous, and low in protein, which isn't as easy for ewes to digest," he said.

"Marginal grazing, such as heather and cotton-grass, are not only low in digestibility and protein, but also in minerals. The uplands tend to experience higher rainfall, which results in low essential mineral levels, so it's vital to provide nutritional support when ewes are laying down the building blocks for a successful lambing crop.

"Hill Grazer, is high in urea based protein, which is broken down quickly in the rumen. On-farm trials carried out over the last three winters have seen ewes supplemented increased roughage use by at least 10%.

"The trials have shown typical intakes are equivalent to two or three blocks per week, per 100 ewes. With intakes so well controlled, ewes are more willing to forage for themselves, occasionally visiting the block rather than standing around it, making for an economical system in mid-pregnancy. This 'little and often' approach improves forage intake and digestibility.

"Our block also contains XP, a pre-fermented yeast containing metabolites which helps support rumen health, to increase digestibility and feed efficiency," added Mr Thornton.

Realising the value of marginal land is important for hill farmers and Rumenco has specifically formulated a block with 23% protein to balance roughage intake for this niche market as a feed solution that fits in with the system.

"Ewes can easily become run down over the winter months, not just visually, but internally. The effectiveness and digestibility of the rumen really drops on wet, poor quality grass, which means ewes can perform poorly and loose condition," added Mr Thornton.