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Chelated supplement improves hill lamb performance
26/01/07

Sheep producers will find genuine cost benefits from drenching both their ewes and lambs this spring with an organically chelated trace element and vitamin supplement, according to results from trials carried out among Northumberland College at Kirkley Hall’s hill flock.

Jerry White

Jerry White

Liveweight gain was boosted by almost 3kg at eight weeks post weaning, bringing an additional net profit of £1,320 for every 1,000 lambs taken through to finishing.

A total of 438 single and twin bearing Blackface cross Swaledale ewes from the college’s Carlcroft hill unit were involved in the trial. Half the flock was drenched with 20ml of Liquithrive Sheep approximately one month prior to lambing. Their Blackface cross lambs’ performance was measured at eight weeks against those from the other half of the flock which remained an undrenched control group. The trial went on to examine lamb performance from the treated ewes which were drenched at eight weeks with 7.5ml of Liquithrive Lamb and a further 15ml dose at weaning at approximately 18 weeks. These lamb weights were recorded at weaning and eight weeks later.

"I was surprised with the extra weight gain in the group that received Liquithrive Lamb as the flock has been treated with other nutritional drenches in the past but with little success,” explains the College’s deputy head of faculty for agriculture, Jerry White. “By eight weeks, single lambs born to the drenched ewes weighed an average 1.2kg more than the control, and twins, 0.6kg heavier. However by weaning, the drenched singles averaged 2.6kg heavier and the twins, 1.3kg heavier than the control. By the end of the trial at approximately 26 weeks, the single lambs weighed 3.5kg more and twins, 2kg.” See table 1.

Table 1: Comparison of lamb performance to 26 weeks

 

Lamb drenching regime

 

Single control

Single treatment

Twin control

Twin treatment

Eight weeks (kg)

20.9

22.1

19.6

20.2

Weaning,18 weeks (kg)

27.1

29.7

26.9

28.2

26 weeks (kg)

29.6

33.1

29.2

31.2

Source: Northumberland College

He adds: “We had taken forage analyses off the hill which confirmed deficiencies of many trace elements, in particular copper, cobalt and selenium. The chelated trace elements in Liquithrive Lamb helped to rectify these deficiencies.” At a current average lamb market value of 100p/kg liveweight, the additional average 2.96kg of liveweight per lamb equates to £2.96 return. While the total cost of treating both the ewe and her lambs was £1.64, the extra lamb weight gain showed a significant improved return for hill sheep farmers worth an equivalent net profit of £1,320 for every 1,000 lambs taken through to finishing.

In addition, previous trial work within a hill flock using the same supplements demonstrated an additional benefit of 27% reduction in lamb mortality.

Agri-Lloyd International’s Dr Lorna Masson explains: “This improvement in lamb weight gain can initially be attributed to the nutritional boost given to the ewe pre-lambing. The subsequent lamb drench, containing a wide range of essential trace elements, vitamins and amino acids, is designed to strengthen the immune system and improve feed conversion and daily liveweight gain in growing lambs. As these nutrients have important roles in energy metabolism and feed conversion, they will ultimately benefit growth performance.”

She adds: “The Northumberland College research has confirmed Liquithrive Lamb will help producers to maximize the growth potential of healthy animals. They can use the drench to achieve that extra weight gain over the traditional finishing period. Alternatively, producers can achieve lamb target finishing weight over a shorter time period and in turn, reduce the number of days required to marketing and speed up cash flow. Whichever benefit route they chose, drenching lambs with an organically chelated trace element and vitamin supplement will enable these farmers to fine tune their finishing system and subsequently enhance their flock’s profitability.”

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