feed one-half to one pound of grain per head per day. Grain should be added gradually to the diet—for example, one quarter pound per day divided into two feedings for a few days, then increasing to one-half pound per day, then to three-quarters of a pound per day, then peaking at one pound a day—to avoid digestive upsets. Also, adequate bunk space is essential or some animals will get too much grain and others will get none.
Flushing with High Energy Feeds
As mentioned, most producers flush by using one-half to one pound of grain per animal per day. Typical grains include corn, barley, oats, wheat and milo. If wheat is used, it should not constitute more than 50% of the grain ration or it will form a poorly-digestible mass in the rumen. Oil seed crops such as whole cottonseed or sunflowers could also be used but are probably cost prohibitive.
Flushing with High Protein Feeds
Flushing with protein is advantageous if flocks are on a protein- deficient diet such as a low-protein pasture. Pasture can be set aside in advance so that it can be used for flushing, but it is best not to use legume pasture for flushing. Fresh alfalfa, clovers, vetches, birdsfoot trefoil and other legumes contain estrogen-like compounds that can interfere with estrous cycles, ovarian function, ovulation rates, cervical and uterine health, sperm transport and conception rates. Fescue grasses, barley grain, oat grain and moldy corn may also contain estrogen-like or toxic substances. Legume and grass hays do not have this estrogenic effect.
Because most spontaneous fetal deaths (early embryonic deaths or EEDs) occur in the first month of gestation and are probably due to poor maternal nutrition, flushing for four weeks post-breeding is recommended, especially in a flock with a low body condition score (BCS) average. BCSs at breeding should be between 3.0 and 3.5 on a scale from 1 to 5. It takes three weeks on an increased plane of nutrition to