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Trace element supplementation improves productivity of land
06/03/06

A demonstration trial, carried out by Hybu Cig Cymru and the IGER Grassland Development Centre and funded by Farming Connect, has shown that the productivity of land in the foothills of the Preseli Mountains in Pembrokeshire was greatly improved by trace element supplementation.

 
Pembrokeshire

The results showed that an extra 13kg of lamb per acre was achieved over the 8-week trial.

Two matched groups each of 100 Texel and Beltex cross weaned lambs grazing a silage aftermath ley at a stocking rate of 15 lambs per acre were monitored over a 58-day period between August and October last year. One group grazed fields spread with the trace element supplement Grasstrac Sheep Special at 20 kg per acre, whilst the fields the control group grazed, received no supplementation.

The area is known to have a low cobalt status and normal practice for the farm was to supplement all stock with a cobalt drench. 

IGER’s Charlie Morgan says the trial was set up to confirm that a lack of cobalt in the soil was restricting the growth and finishing of weaned lambs and to test the idea of treating the land instead of the animals. He said:  “The results of this initial trial were very promising.  Growth rates of the lambs grazing the treated fields were improved by 11 %( 151g/day v 136g/day) and carcass data showed better conformation and fat classification with twice as many of the Grasstrac lambs reaching the desired finish than the controls.”

Because the lambs were heavier and had better conformation, they produced an extra lamb weight worth £3.46 per lamb at current market prices. The cost per lamb of supplementation was 79p.

Blood analysis showed that the cobalt status of the Grasstrac lambs was significantly better (+64%) than the controls at the end of the trial period and close to the guideline to maintain an adequate cobalt level, indicating the effectiveness of supplementation.

Worm drenching was carried out in both groups at the start of the trial but faecal egg counts during the trial showed that only the control group required a further drench.

Mr Morgan continued:  “The other important factor we discovered is that treating the land is far less of a hassle than treating the lambs and labour costs are reduced as a result!”

Fat Class %

 

2

3L

3H

4L

Control

6

71

23

0

Grasstrac

0

90

10

0

Conformation Grades %

 

E

U

R

O

Control

0

47

53

0

Grasstrac

10

58

32

0

Growth Rates

Start Date
08/08/05

First weigh
13/09/05
36 days

Second weigh
05/10/05
22 days

Average

Control Lambs

171 g/day

79 g/day

136 g/day

Grasstrac Lambs

190 g/day

88 g/day

151 g/day

Carcass data
% Dead Weight

 

14.5kg - 16.5 kg

17.0 kg - 20.0 kg

20.5 kg +

Control

47.0

36.0

17.0

Grasstrac

22.5

43.0

35.0

 

link Giving Surplus Lambs a Chance
link Guard Against Wet Straw In Lambing Sheds
link Success For Swalex As Cumbrian Sheep Arrive In Estonia

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