The lambing season offers an ideal window to carry out routine management practices that improve animal health for the year ahead and farmers should take this opportunity to supply the necessary trace elements to their flocks, advises NEMSA sponsor Animax.

“No farmer wants to go into the Spring with sheep losing weight and having a weakened immune system,” said Elizabeth Berry, Animax vet director. “I cannot stress enough the need to address the flock’s trace element needs and to ensure that they are provided.

“I want to emphasise the vital importance of trace elements for animal performance – an area sometimes overlooked, particularly at busy times of the year. Trace elements are essential for cell metabolism and many other body functions, including energy production, growth, reproduction and the nervous system – so have a major impact on animal performance.

“Consider your options – the most effective and labour saving product is a leaching bolus – which offers up to six months supplementation. This is particularly useful when sheep are grazed on fells, or away from the farm or adequate handling facilities. It provides a slow release, consistent supply of trace elements and is the optimal size to ensure retention. This gives you peace of mind that the product is doing its job – it eliminates uncertainty.

“Also, by balancing the diet correctly, you maximise the benefits of home grown forages or grass and so the efficiency of your nutrition is increased. It reduces the cost of concentrates, or supplementary feeds, by ensuring that forage or grass is used much more effectively.

“By using a leaching bolus pre-lambing, the ewe is prepared for the demands of lambing and in better condition for milk supply. The benefits are passed from ewe to lamb so you will be giving the lambs the best start you can – which will be evident in their growth rates and vigour.

“One major advantage of a leaching bolus is that the rate of release is regulated only by the rate of water infiltration and so does not vary between different animals. This is important as farmers aim to produce consistent animals and the leaching technology is a tool which helps to deliver uniform stock.

“With the modern demands of sheep farming, we need to focus on ways to work smarter and embrace labour-saving technology that provides best practice for our flocks. Products that offer effective, labour saving benefits and support animal performance should be adopted within farm management plans,” added Dr Berry.