Selecting a finishing nut for young lambs is not easy when there are so many on the market – much depends on when and at what age such lambs have to be sold off the farm.

Trial results between two separate Mole Valley Farmers' feeds – Prime Lamb Finisher and Fast Lamb Finisher – on John Bentley's HB Farms, at Fadmoor, North Yorkshire, is one case in point with the two feeds showing different levels of performance.

"Although both contain 16% crude protein, they are very different in terms of starch, fibre and ingredients, not to mention cost,” said Mole Valley Farmers' business development manager, Dean Smith, Stokesley.

“Like many producers Mr Bentley is understandably very focussed on feed costs and in the past has used a number of different finishing nuts over the years, with varying results.

“Tru-Test offered us the loan of an Ezi-Weigh system to help monitor the trial and suspension cell to link up with Mr Bentley’s Tru-Test stick reader. This gave us the opportunity to accurately measure feed conversion, feed intake and liveweight gains, both of a group of lambs and also individual lambs.”

The lambs were randomly divided into two groups and fed ad-lib nuts through a creep feeder. They were also offered ad-lib hay and straw in racks and plenty of fresh water. Both groups were weighed on a weekly basis and selected for slaughter at the same time, by Mr Bentley’s lamb buyer Kenton Foster.

Prime Lamb Finisher nuts contain 32.8% starch and sugar and 9.1% fibre with a high barley inclusion balanced by sugar beet and wheat feed.

Fast Lamb is a starchier product (37.3%) with lower fibre content (7.6%) but with barley, wheat and sugar beet at the top of the ticket, this is a potent but also very safe product even when fed ad lib.

Daily intake Cost/head/day FCR DLWG Value of DLWG Cost benefit

Prime lamb 1.6kg £0.41 6.2:1 0.26kg £0.52 11p/hd/day

Fast lamb 1.6kg £0.45 4.7:1 0.34kg £.0.68 23p/hd/day

Dean concluded: “Trial results clearly demonstrated the benefit of using a higher starch feed with lambs over 30kg liveweight. Whilst Fast lamb is about £20 per tonne more expensive, this is more than compensated for by the improved feed conversion rate and higher liveweight gain.

"For younger lambs, Prime Lamb would be more effective, due to the demand for skeletal growth. But if growing lean meat in the final stages is the primary aim, Fast Lamb would be the product of choice.”