Understanding and correcting mineral deficiencies can mean the difference between a poor and a good lamb crop next year. Iodine and selenium deficiencies affect fertility and cause abortions, cobalt influences lamb vigour and copper deficiency causes general ill thrift in ewes which will affect their pregnancy success.
Most importantly, we must understand need for mineral supplementation first. All tests (forage, soils, bloods) will add to the picture of the issues on your farm, but blood and liver samples will give the most accurate diagnosis in the animal. Get a vet to blood test a sample of the flock pre-tupping.
If deficiency is diagnosed, a drench will give a quick acting response but this is short lived (2-3 weeks). Boluses provide a sustained release of the mineral over 6-12 months; however they will provide the minerals in a slower manner. Mineral buckets can be useful but the will be variation of intakes between individuals of the flock.
Some farmers have seen up to 10% increase in scanning percentage through correcting mineral deficiencies. It is worth understanding the issue and trialling treatment with a proportion of the flock to see whether mineral supplementation yields a worthwhile response.
Poppy Frater, firstname.lastname@example.org
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