When it comes to helping our sheep farmer clients prevent vitamin B12/cobalt deficiency in their stock, one of the biggest challenges - compared to dealing with deficiencies of other trace elements - is the variability and unpredictability of cobalt levels in their pastures.
Due to a range of factors, the timing and severity of deficiency can vary from year to year, farm to farm, and even across different parts of the same farm. SMARTShot takes away all the guesswork around vitamin B12 supplementation.
It is given at tailing - and lasts for six months (or for the life of most of your finishing lambs, if a 0.5mL dose is used). Farmers in my area (southern South Island) can be confident that the vitamin B12 with/without selenium requirements of their lambs will be met for the whole of the period where cobalt levels may be low in their pastures. For those farmers in areas that experience more severe cobalt deficiency, there is the option to treat the ewes as well, to ensure that their lambs start life with adequate vitamin B12 reserves.
Convenience is the other important benefit of SMARTShot.
While it may be possible to achieve similar results using repeated injections of short-acting vitamin B12 and selenium products.
The need to yard the lambs monthly - as well as the extra work around administering multiple injections, not to mention the increased risk of injection-site lesions - all add to the appeal of SMARTShot.
From a veterinary perspective, SMARTShot is a great product and I do not believe that anyone would dispute its effectiveness.
Our challenge is to point out to our farmer clients the value, in terms of productivity, reliability, and convenience, of investing in a long-acting vitamin B12 and selenium treatment for their lambs.
In studies of cobalt and selenium-deficient flocks, following a single long-acting vitamin B12 injection of lambs at docking, vitamin B12 levels were increased and maintained at adequate levels for 3-4 months until time of slaughter. Mean growth rates were increased above that of untreated controls for 6 months and liveweights maintained for 8 months.
Following a single long-acting vitamin B12 plus selenium injection of ewes pre-mating, adequate levels of vitamin B12 were maintained for 180 days and levels ot selenium for 300 days.
Adequate levels were maintained in their lambs until 1 month of age for vitamin B12 and until weaning for selenium.
- Vitamin B12/cobalt and selenium are important for the development and productivity of flocks grazed on NZ pastures.
- About 45% and 25% of NZ pastures, respectively, will not provide adequate cobalt and selenium for grazing livestock.
- Because lambs should be treated as early as possible to prevent deficiencies of vitamin B12/cobalt or selenium, preference should be given to injecting at docking time.
- SMARTShot is a novel form of long-acting vitamin B12 injection with or without selenium for vitamin B12/cobalt and selenium supplementation in sheep.