Livestock

Sheep producers encouraged to monitor trace mineral deficiency

By Country News

Sheep producers have been reminded of the potential for trace mineral deficiency diseases to affect their lambs this year.

Agriculture Victoria senior veterinary officer Dr Robert Suter said early season rain should result in good pasture growth throughout winter, however, the flush of new pasture could increase trace mineral deficiency diseases in lambs born in winter and early spring.

Dr Suter said trace mineral deficiencies could result from ewes grazing lush green feed during the last half of their pregnancy.

“These ewes are likely to have lambs with low or deficient levels of trace minerals selenium, copper, iodine and cobalt,” he said.

“Sheep ingest several essential trace minerals from soil intake.

“This usually occurs when ewes graze short pastures after a dry summer and before the autumn break.

“When there is a lot of early season pasture growth, the intake of trace minerals via the soil is less likely to occur.”

Growing animals, such as lambs, also have a higher demand for trace minerals than adult sheep and are likely to suffer a dietary deficiency sooner.

Dr Suter said trace minerals were only required in small amounts but were still essential for optimal production.

He said sheep producers in known deficient areas should review their trace mineral supplement strategies to ensure ewes have adequate levels to produce healthy lambs.

“Most of Victoria is iodine-deficient, and an appropriate time to supplement ewes is mid-pregnancy.

“A good time to do this is at pregnancy scanning.

“Special care must be taken with supplementing ewes with copper, as sheep can be easily killed with relatively small amounts of copper.”

For information on the signs of deficiency according to mineral, visit: http://agriculture.vic.gov.au/agriculture/livestock/sheep/sheep-notes-newsletters/spring-2016-sheep-notes/trace-mineral-deficiencies