The Importance of Amino Acids
A large percentage of wool protein is made up of the sulphur amino acid cysteine, and therefore the first limiting amino acid in sheep. The other sulphur containing amino acid, methionine, can also influence cysteine levels through metabolism to cysteine (Reis 1988). Methionine is the preferred supplement because it is an essential amino acid with important metabolic functions as well as being a source of cysteine (Staples et al. 1993). As such, many studies have used methionine supplements and obtained significant increases in wool growth rates (Leach 2013).
The Bottom Line: Is supplementation with amino acids pre-lambing can help with wool growth.
The Role of Calcium Phosphorous and Magnesium
The results of a study undertaken by AWI Ltd in 2018 showed that supplementation of twin-bearing ewes with Calcium, Magnesium or both during the last month of gestation through to the first month of lactation regulated the Calcium homeostatic mechanism and improved the energy balance of ewes.
The same trial also showed an average increase in weight gains of lambs from birth to 4 weeks of age of 70 grams per head per day, supplemented with Calcium Magnesium and Phosphorous.
What’s in it for You the Producer: Better energy balance in ewes to improve survivability and improved growth rate of lambs up to 70grams per head per day.
Zinc and its Benefits
In dormant forage such as encountered in the winter pastures of the Northern, Central and Southern Tablelands of NSW, the amount of zinc in the pasture may not be sufficient to meet the lambing ewes requirements.
Page C (et.al.) 2020.
1. Lamb Survival
Considering the role of Zinc in the immune function (Page C et.al.), Zinc in ewes milk could be used to aid in countering bacterial challenges indicating potential benefits from supplementing increased dietary Zinc prior to parturition and during lactation. (Page C et.al). Hence supplementation with zinc can aid in improving lamb survival.
Page C et.al. 2020: Effects on dietary Zinc on ewe milk minerals and somatic cell count.
White CL et.al. 2008: The effect of zinc deficiency on wool growth and skin and wool follicle histology of male Merino lambs.
Friend M et.al. 2018: (Australian Wool Innovation Limited Final Report) Managing metabolic disorders in pregnant ewes to improve ewe and lamb survival .
Leach R 2013: Wool quality and rumen-protected Lysine in merino ewes during late pregnancy and early lactation.