After a recent period of unpredictable weather conditions such as heavy snowfall, in some places, many are now experiencing what seems like an early mild spring. With the increased nutritional demands that this brings to ewes prior to lambing, farmers are being advised to introduce a trace element bolus programme, which will offer effectivesupplementation to support immunity, promote lamb vigour and reduce the risk of swayback.
“Focussing on energy and protein is obviously critical at this time but let’s not forget the impact trace elements have on the animal utilising her nutrition effectively, especially at lambing time when her needs are elevated.
“Having a pregnant ewe with trace element deficiencies can lead to costly health issues for both the ewe and her lambs,”stresses Dr Elizabeth Berry BVSc, PhD, MRCVS, Animax Company Veterinary Director. “Animal performance can be significantly affected, and yet it can easily be avoided with the introduction of a trace element leaching bolus before lambing.
“By ensuring the ewe is nutritionally prepared for the demands of lambing, you will see her in better condition for milk supply and recovery. This has an immediate benefit to the lamb, which will be given a better start to life – impacting futuregrowth rate and vigour.
“One particular trace element that is associated with sheep farming is copper. Copper deficiency is a common issue for various reasons such as low copper levels or high levels of antagonists or even both. Pregnancy increases the demand for copper and so it is important to ensure sufficient copper is available at this time. Copper deficiency can result inswayback in lambs; which is not treatable and can lead to huge costs through unsaleable lambs and a reduced number of replacements. It is important, however, to work with your vet on copper supplementation, as there is considerable breed variation with respect to copper absorption and therefore to copper deficiency and toxicity. Getting the balance right is crucial.
“Other trace elements also need attention and play a significant role at this time. Supplying sufficient selenium is important to ensure a healthy immune response. Cobalt levels affect appetite and energy, whilst iodine has an impact on lamb vigour. Combined, the adequate provision of all trace elements, make a significant difference on ewe and lamb health and performance. The best way to ensure you supply this is through a trace element leaching bolus, which will give you peace of mind that they have addressed any deficiencies effectively.
“All livestock farmers want to see stock thrive – with good health and growth. Often, with trace element deficiencies, theclinical signs are not seen until after the crucial time of supplementation. Giving a trace element leaching bolus before lambing will protect the ewes from suffering deficiencies at this critical period and the benefits will then be seen over the coming months.
Elizabeth adds, “Don’t overlook this key area of nutrition. Trace elements are essential for energy production, growth, and the nervous system – so have a major impact on animal performance.
“The sheep industry is experiencing a challenging time and so it’s imperative that inputs that are proven to improve efficiencies and performance are considered. Introducing a bolus in to your flock management plan offers this and will play a role in overall farm profitability.”