To sheep and goats, ab libitum feeding is a buffet of goodies that are often quickly devoured. When this buffet includes high amounts of grain, the metabolic reaction inside the small ruminants can be devastating. Feeding livestock based on their physiological stage and protein needs helps to maintain a balance between feeds consumed and energy required.
Dr. Nancy Irlbeck, associate dean and professor of animal sciences at Colorado State University, has found that to be the case on her operation called Aniroonz Sheep Company.
“Nutrition is a puzzle,” she says. “It depends on your management, the behaviorisms of the animal and how much money you are willing to spend, but keep in mind that your feeding costs will be greater than 70 percent of the budget.”