Trace elements ensure thrive
The summer has arrived and grass growth is still slow. Over the last few weeks we have been under pressure as the weather has been cold and breezy and this has meant that grass growth is well behind what we desire for this time of the year.
Because of the harsh weather I have had to continue to feed an 18pc protein ewe and lamb crunch to the ewes with the youngest lambs. I found that using this feed allows the lambs to learn to eat meal with the ewes and the lambs adapt to using a creep feeder easier than if the ewes were eating a pellet.
This is extra feeding that I hadn't planned for and is an added cost. As soon as I have sufficient grass for the ewes and lambs the feeding of the ewes will cease. I felt I had to feed these ewes to maintain milk supply to the lambs. This added cost is not desirable, particularly this year, as the factories have pulled prices so early. Perhaps this price will stabilise. Let's hope so as stable prices are important in a cost sensitive industry.
At this stage the first worm dose has been given to all lambs and will cover them through to weaning. In addition to the white worm dose I also dosed them with trace elements.
A number of years back we had blood tests carried out on a number of sheep that suffered from ill thrift. The test results found that we had mineral deficiencies on the farm. The main minerals that were lacking were copper and cobalt.
These are trace elements and are slightly more focussed in their functionality than major elements. I learned that a copper deficiency can be the cause of sway-back in lambs and since I started dosing for these deficiencies I have had no reoccurrence of sway.
The signs of a cobalt deficiency are clear as lambs develop scabby scaly ears and are thin. Cobalt works in conjunction with Vitamin B12 and is not held in the body for long.
There is the option of bringing in all the lambs every week and dose them for it. Since this is a time-consuming and a labour intensive process, the option of using boluses or using chelated trace element products such as Liquithrive is much more practical.