Friday, 23 August 2019 11:44

Small things make a big difference

Written by  Julie Roberts, Ravensdown animal health area manager
Julie Roberts. Julie Roberts.

Lamb daily growth rates on sheep farms in New Zealand are in a huge range — from as low as 80g to 350g or more per lamb per day. 

Getting to the top of this range requires attention to detail.

Ewe condition score and milking ability, pasture quality and quantity, weather, trace elements and genetics are just some of the variables farmers need to manage.  If just one of these ingredients is missing, or is in short supply, lambs will struggle to reach target weights. 

Trace elements, although only required in small amounts, are a key part of this big picture. Adequate dietary levels are essential for healthy lamb growth and production.  Selenium and cobalt (used to make Vitamin B12) are of particular importance in NZ farming systems. 

 Providing the ewe’s selenium and B12 levels are adequate, her suckling lambs should receive enough of these minerals through to weaning.  If the ewe mineral levels are not adequate, then extra supplementation may be necessary to ensure good lamb growth rates.  

The trick is to know if you need extra supplementation and whether to give this to the ewe or the lamb.  If targeting the ewe, then a pre-lamb mineral boost is ideal. If targeting the lamb, then docking/tailing is the first ideal opportunity. 

Test before supplementing

Herbage samples in the spring, when the grass is actively growing, can give you an idea as to whether the pasture will supply adequate amounts of key minerals. 

Herbage trace element information should be supported with liver or blood samples, to confirm actual levels for animals and the level for supplementation required.   

All stock have different needs for each trace element. However, an animal health professional can help you decide where there may be shortfalls and interpret the results.

There are different options available for boosting animal trace elements, including mineral amended fertilisers, mineralised drenches, injections, pour-ons, etc.  

Your regional animal health technical advisor can advise you on mineral requirements for stock this spring.

Ideal selenium and B12 levels for lambs

 

Herbage 

(mg/kg DM)

Liver 

(nmol/kg)

Serum Blood (nmol/L)

Selenium

>0.03

>440

>100

Cobalt

>0.11

Vitamin B12

– >375

>500

 

• Julie Roberts is Ravensdown animal health area manager

» Connect with Rural News

More like this

No silver bullet for phosphorus

In New Zealand’s soils, phosphorus does a great job at growing plants but unfortunately it does the same thing if it makes it into our water.

Getting spring pasture covers right

Managing pasture surpluses or deficits in spring is the key to maintaining quality and persistence going into summer, says Ravensdown agronomist Tim Russell.

Feed stock properly

In this season we are again asking a lot of our stock, writes Julie Wagner, Ravensdown animal health product manager.

» The RNG Weather Report

Featured

Soil moisture: no more looking over the fence

Farm manager Bryan Mitchell describes as brilliant the SCADAfarm systems that allow him to remotely monitor and manage the irrigation of his 300ha of leased grazing land near Kirwee.

 

Separation gives constant result

Effluent separation offers a number of unique advantages, and opportunities that other systems don’t offer, says farm equipment manufacturer Rakaia Engineering Ltd (REL) Group.

Cultivating the right way

Cultivation of paddocks is common on farms at this time of year. It’s also a time when local storms may occur, adding substantial risk to an important farming practice.

» Connect with Rural News

» Connect with Rural News

» The RNG Weather Report

» Latest Print Issues Online

The Hound

Job hunting?

A mate of the Hound reckons outgoing special agricultural trade envoy Mike Petersen, who is due to finish his current…

Hot air?

With the Government wanting to implement huge costs on the livestock farming sector by making New Zealand the only country…

» Connect with Rural News