Directorate Communication________________________________________


Feeding of sheep and goats

How to improve sheep production

• Improve the available grazing

• Provide supplements in the case of nutrient deficiencies

• Provide supplementation during feed shortages.


Deteriorating veld usually first displays a protein deficiency. Energy and protein are the most important supplementation during feed shortages and must be provided in combination.

Energy sources

Maize, barley, triticale, wheat fodder, oats and rye

Protein sources

Lucerne hay, lupins, oil-cake meal and fish-meal

Nonprotein nitrogen source

Urea is used in licks, together with other ingredients. Small stock can be poisoned by taking in too much urea. Sheep and goats should not eat more than 10_14 kg of urea per day. Salt (20_40 %) is added to regulate intake. If rain falls on urea licks provided in open, water-tight containers, and animals drink from the containers, they are poisoned and die.

Bear the following in mind

• Grains can cause acid stomach in sheep and goats. This can be prevented by adding slaked lime to the grain (1 kg lime to 100 kg grain). Lime-treated grain will also improve utilisation of the grain. Provide small quantities of grain at first so that the animals gradually become used to it.

• Sheep and goats that are fed, must have access to sufficient roughage.

Lick in times of drought—late-pregnant and lactating ewes

The lick must contain the following:

Grain meal 

570 kg

Slaked lime

15,5 kg

Fish-meal/oilcake meal 

143 kg

Molasses/molasses meal 

15 kg

Lupin meal/oilcake meal

 78 kg


1,5 kg


 37 kg


140 kg

On veld or on pastures this lick can be provided at 200 g per ewe per day to pregnant ewes and at 400 g per ewe per day to lactating ewes.

Hints to prevent nutritional deficiencies

During mating season

Mate ewes so that they lamb when grazing is plentiful. At that time lambs have a better chance of survival. It also limits the purchase of expensive fodder and lambs can be marketed earlier.

During the gestation period

Limit the mating season to 6 weeks so that it covers two oestrus cycles. An over-long mating season makes flock management difficult (vaccination, dipping and dosing).

Prevent malnutrition, stress (as a result of dipping and shearing), or driving of animals over long distances within the first 3 weeks after mating because this can cause resorption of the foetus.

Sufficient feed for late-pregnant ewes (last 6–8 weeks) ensures strong lambs.

During lambing

Lambs should suckle as soon as possible after birth to ingest colostrum in order to build up a natural resistance to diseases and to take in feed.

Provide suitable shelter against wind and rain.

Ensure that ewes with lambs remain in good condition. The lambs of ewes that produce lots of milk grow rapidly and can be weaned sooner. This will give the ewe time to reach an acceptable mass after weaning before she becomes pregnant again. If a ewe loses too much condition during lambing, she does not conceive easily during the next mating season.


Contact Tertius Brand of the Animal Production Division of the Department of Agriculture: Western Cape for further information 



Compiled by Directorate Communication, National Department of Agriculture
in cooperation with the Department of Agriculture: Western Cape

Printed and published by the National Department of Agriculture
and obtainable from Resource Centre, Directorate Communication
Private Bag X144, Pretoria, 0001 South Africa