With so many factors affecting the time taken to finish lambs for sale, such as parasites and disease, trace element status can occasionally be over looked. Trace elements are required by the ruminant and all play vital roles in their growth, development and productivity. If these vital trace elements are not supplied in sufficient quantities to meet the daily needs it will take longer to finish the lambs.
An adequate supply of cobalt is critical for lamb growth. After cobalt is consumed by the lamb it reaches the rumen where bacteria utilise the cobalt to produce Vitamin B12. Vitamin B12 is required for glucose synthesis and so is vital in achieving a good food conversion ratio.
Ruminants have no capacity to store cobalt and as a result lambs are very susceptible to Vitamin B12 deficiency, also known as pine, resulting in poor growth rates. In order to tackle a cobalt deficiency a continuous supply of cobalt must be utilised (such as a bolus).
Selenium is required to produce proteins which ensure the immune system functions properly so plays an important role in disease defence. A relationship exists between selenium and iodine and so they must always be considered together when investigating suspected deficiencies.
Iodine is a component of the thyroid hormones T3 and T4. The thyroid hormones regulate the rate of metabolism and control the rate of absorption of carbohydrate from the gastrointestinal tract therefore heavily contributing to a good food conversion ratio. The utilisation of iodine in the body depends on selenium.
Copper is a component of enzymes which play a role in energy metabolism and immunity. It is very important to remember that copper can be toxic to sheep and so copper supplements should only be given if a deficiency has been diagnosed. Blue faced Leicester and Texel sheep are particularly susceptible to copper toxicity.
Zinc is critically involved in cell replication and the development of cartilage and bone. Deficiency results in: reduced growth rates, abnormal skeletal formation, delayed sexual development, dermatitis and poor hoof health.
The key thing to remember is that trace element supplementation should always be targeted based on diagnosed deficiencies. You will only see a benefit to supplementing trace elements where a deficiency exists.
Forage is incredibly variable not only between fields on the same farm but from year to year. You must also take into account any other supplementation given such as concentrates, lick buckets, drenches etc and you can begin to see that it’s impossible to take a ‘one shoe fits all’ approach between different management systems.
You should work with your vet to determine which, if any, trace element imbalances are present. In addition to seeing no benefit to supplementation if no deficiencies exist- it may even harm lambs (copper and selenium can be toxic if over supplied).
From a commercial aspect there are two main considerations which justify the importance of investigation:
Certain sheep breeds, Blue faced Leicesters and Texels in particular, are susceptible to copper toxicity. Selenium may also be toxic if over supplied. Please consult a vet or nutritionist to utilise diagnostics to establish the need prior to supplementation.
Date editorial prepared: February 2018
About the Author:
Rachel Mallet is a Veterinary Surgeon, who now works as a Professional Services Vet providing technical support to vets, SQPs and farmers in the UK. Rachel is passionate about animal health and about promoting best practice and preventative medicine amongst farmers.
Bimeda UK are delighted to announce the launch of a new online CPD learning resource. The Bimeda E-Learning Portal can be found at bimeda-learning.co.uk and hosts a series of interactive CPD presentations and webinars, focused within Bimeda’s core business areas of parasite control, nutrition, equine and dairy production.
Each module will contribute to the CPD requirements of veterinarians and SQPs, and a certificate is issued following on from the successful completion of the course, detailing the length of the training or the number of AMTRA points allocated, as relevant.
Bimeda UK’s Professional Services Veterinarian, Rachel Mallet, commented: “The Bimeda UK team already strive to provide quality training to our customers, farmers and horse owners, to allow them to make informed decisions and recommendations regarding best practice for disease control and the promotion of animal welfare. In order to maintain our commitment to promoting best practice and responsible and targeted use of medicines we felt it was important to provide a learning platform which was easily accessible, for those unable to attend physical training sessions.”
Our first online CPD module is hosted by Lesley Stubbings, independent sheep consultant, and focuses on the Spring threat of Nematodirus in young lambs.
Every month new learning modules will be added relevant to current or seasonal disease challenges. Future topics include liver fluke disease, sheep scab and gastrointestinal roundworm control.
To register for free to take part in these training sessions, vets and SQPs can register here: https://bimeda-learning.co.uk/.
Bimeda UK were pleased to host a very successful training evening in the Tannery Bar and Restaurant in Moira, Co. Armagh. The topic for the evening was sheep ecto-parasites with a focus on blowfly strike and sheep scab and best practise in relation to dealing with these parasites.
There was great attendance with over 40 SQPs as well as many others interested in learning about sheep ecto-parasites and best practise.
Rachel Mallet BVM&S MRCVS conducted the talk and spoke about each disease in turn. She explained the causes and treatment of Blowfly Strike first. This was a timely update as Blowfly season is only around the corner and SQPs were keen to learn about the parasite.
Next on the agenda was Sheep Scab. Rachel detailed the lifecycle of the parasite before going on to explain the clinical signs and diagnosis of the disease – which was of particular interest to SQPs. Rachel then went through the options for farmers to treat/prevent sheep scab. Here, sheep dipping was highlighted as the best option for both prevention and cure. Rachel pointed out that there has been a rise in the incidence of sheep scab on farms in the UK in the last 20 years and that recent work carried out that shows there is resistance of 3ML wormers emerging. SQPs were most interested in learning about these recent findings as this is a very important topic ahead of summer.
Also on the night, Rachel briefly covered trace element supplementation and how best for SQPs to advise farmers on the topic. She also outlined the best options to advise to help treat any deficiencies in the herd/flock, if they are present.
Finally, there was an interactive quiz that went down very well as well as an opportunity to ask questions with great audience participation. There was a real thirst for knowledge among SQPs ahead of the busy spring and summer periods.
In summary, it was a hugely successful night and Bimeda were delighted to be involved in this educational and beneficial event for SQPs in Northern Ireland.