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Author Topic: Loose minerals for sheep  (Read 7723 times)

ladyK

  • Joined Dec 2012
  • Conwy Valley
Loose minerals for sheep
« on: December 12, 2013, 12:05:49 am »

I am currently reading Pat Coleby's book with great interest, I have seen her book mentioned in a couple other threads here. I'm particularly intrigued by her mention of correct copper levels in sheep making the animal inhospitable t all parasites, including fluke. Wondering if anybody has tried her recommnedations of offering a choice of free access minerals, and with what results?

I had a forage analysis done on my field at the end of the summer (by JG Animal Health, as recommended by some here) and a few things seem quite out of balance (very high iron, sodium and molybdenum, very low selenium and copper, and a very high copper antagonism figure). I was told 'not to worry, there is much worse' but I can't help being concerned, and reading the Coleby book now has me even more worried that I should be doing something.

I have a small flock of 7 Soays on 3 acres. I am aware that primitives are even more susceptible to copper poisoning than other breeds but I also now realise how very vital the right amount of copper is at the same time.
(They had a yellow rockie initially which they liked a lot, but after seeing the high sodium levels I switched to a molassed Crystalyx Smallholder tub, which they don'y seem to take to as keenly.)

If anyone has any experience with this I'd be grateful to hear about it.
"If one way is better than another, it is the way of nature." (Aristotle)

darkbrowneggs

  • Joined Aug 2010
    • The World is My Lobster
Re: Loose minerals for sheep
« Reply #1 on: December 12, 2013, 12:15:03 am »
When I had my Black Welsh Mountain flock I gave them free access Seaweed Meal.  When they were first offered it they ate so much I didnt think I would be able to afford it, but after not too long they seemed hardly bothered but would go for some occasionally


Apparently all the trace minerals are available in seaweed meal.  I didnt ever have any deficiency problems after I started using it though before I had pine and when the land was tested it was deficient in selenium and I think cobalt as well 


I have very damp ground with springs and pond and never had fluke plus only wormed occasionally when needed.


I always had it available on free access for all my stock including the fowls.
To follow my travel journal see http://www.theworldismylobster.org.uk

For lots of info about Marans and how to breed and look after them see www.darkbrowneggs.info

Tim W

  • Joined Aug 2013
Re: Loose minerals for sheep
« Reply #2 on: December 12, 2013, 07:39:46 am »
If your sheep are thriving then don't worry about it

If they conceive and rear lambs that fatten well then you can't be doing too much wrong

People who do mineral tests often have it in their interests to sell you supplements---if they say not to worry then I would think you are ok. These results are interpreted with high performance/high stress livestock systems in place----a low intensity system with lower output sheep like yours should be fine

lachlanandmarcus

  • Joined Aug 2010
  • Aberdeenshire
Re: Loose minerals for sheep
« Reply #3 on: December 12, 2013, 07:45:21 am »
I agree with Tim W.


We are also high iron etc and my barefoot pony does need a low iron higher copper supplement. And some local farmers Bolus their sheep with copper. But I just use yellow Rockies with the Shetlands and on the basis that they all get in lamb and rear 150% year in year out good as gold and are well and happy, I'm happy that they aren't desperately lacking anything.




devonlad

  • Joined Nov 2012
  • Nr Crediton in Devon
Re: Loose minerals for sheep
« Reply #4 on: December 12, 2013, 09:28:22 am »
As someone who makes a living from soil testing and making subsequent recommendations re crop / animal livestock health requirements I wouldn't advocate ignoring these results completely ( funnily enough) but as others have already said in a low intensity system such as yours it would be surprising if there was much to worry about. As your results have shown there is an antagonism between the high levels of iron and Molybdenum which causes copper to become "locked up" and less available. There are health issues linked to copper deficiency in sheep, primarily a lessening of fertility and also Swayback in lambs.
Like you we farm at a very small level and although I've never actually tested my own fields I would be surprised if there weren't one or two "important" bits lacking. I don't really lose much sleep over this and just make sure they've always got access to licks or buckets. Sodium is one of those things that livestock will self regulate on meaning that if they're using a salt based lick its because they need, it despite your high sodium levels. they don't gorge on salt in the way they can on a molasses based bucket.
If they're reproducing to a nice percentage, generally healthy and lambs are healthy, I wouldn't worry. The only real way to know would be blood tests, as low levels of a nutrient in the soil does not always automatically mean low levels in the animal.and it is possible to supplement copper in sheep in varying ways so if you're really anxious its a vet job I would suggest.

ladyK

  • Joined Dec 2012
  • Conwy Valley
Re: Loose minerals for sheep
« Reply #5 on: December 12, 2013, 09:44:22 am »
Thank you all for your replies, very helpful!

You are all right, of cours, that I shouldn't loose sleep over it unless there are actual problems showing, and I can't see any problems yet, but as this is my first winter with them (and hopefully my first lambing in spring  :fc:) I would like to avoid avoidable problems, if I can.

I think I might try the seaweed, I guess it can't really harm them (except my wallet, perhaps).
How did you feed it, darkbrowneggs? In a trough? With a rain cover?
And I might get back to the Yellow Rockies too (though they seem harder to find than all the other ones).
"If one way is better than another, it is the way of nature." (Aristotle)

Foobar

  • Joined Mar 2012
  • South Wales
Re: Loose minerals for sheep
« Reply #6 on: December 12, 2013, 09:54:20 am »
I had a similar forage analysis results, although with low sodium levels.  I see pigmentation issues in my BWM, which I suspect is due to low copper, so I drench with a mineral supplement that contains copper, and they do better for it.  As your breed is more copper sensitive I would be more careful and consult your vet.
Some things that I do are:
- put out lump rock salt (the pink himalayan kind), as well as being a source of sodium it also contains background levels of lots of other minerals
- when I buy hard feed I try to avoid any that contain molybdenum (although that's actually quite difficult)
- I put out free access garlic and seaweed (I didn't do it this year as I don't have anywhere dry to keep it, but one of my winter jobs is the make a new mineral feeder which will solve this for next year!)

clydesdaleclopper

  • Joined Aug 2009
  • Aberdeenshire
Re: Loose minerals for sheep
« Reply #7 on: December 12, 2013, 01:21:16 pm »
I am interested in doing it but have had difficulty sourcing some of the ingredients for Pat Coleby's recipe. When the ewes were in for lambing this year I gave them ad lib seaweed and some of the ewes ate loads but then it tailed off. My main issue with it is how to provide access to the mix in the field without everything getting sodden.
Our holding has Anglo Nubian and British Toggenburg goats, Gotland sheep, Franconian Geese, Blue Swedish ducks, a whole load of mongrel hens and two semi-feral children.

Foobar

  • Joined Mar 2012
  • South Wales
Re: Loose minerals for sheep
« Reply #8 on: December 12, 2013, 01:50:09 pm »
My main issue with it is how to provide access to the mix in the field without everything getting sodden.
Yes, ditto that.  And having spent months searching for something suitable ... I've tried the drainpipe type feeders but we have lots of horizontal rain in wales and that gets in those really easily :( ... I've plumped for a "low-boy mineral feeder" type thing, which I will make over xmas.  Put that into google image search and you will see what I mean, its a wooden box with compartments and a rubber flap which the animals lift up.  PM me if you want more pictures, I have accumulated a collection :).
3in1 have finally released their mineral feeder to the UK now, but it's too big (and too expensive!) for my needs.  http://3in1feeders.co.uk/mineral-attachment.php 


devonlad

  • Joined Nov 2012
  • Nr Crediton in Devon
Re: Loose minerals for sheep
« Reply #9 on: December 12, 2013, 06:02:17 pm »
Apologies if this sounds like touting for business ( I'm not cos I don't sell them) but there is a mineral block based on refined calcified seaweed and sodium available. Branded as Euroblocs in this country they contain "Calseagrit" and "Biotech"- more info via this link.

www.grasslandagro.ie/wp-content/themes/grassland.../EUROBLOC.pdf?


 As far as I know my employers Mole valley are the only stockists in mainland Britain ( Grassland Agro stock them in  iIreland ),. they are in stock in mole valley stores in the west country but less sure about other parts of Britain, bearing in mind that there are Mole valley subsidiary companies as far north as Yorkshire.
I use them ( the calsea zinc one for mty sheep- not all  the range are sheep suitable largely due to higher copper content ) and whilst not the cheapest ( about 15-17 pounds) they last for ages- more than 3  months for my 12 sheep, provided you keep them out the rain. I built an extended roof  to my hay rack where the block sits in its own custom made holder and it lasts ages. end of this public service announcement  :innocent:

sarahdean_66

  • Joined May 2012
  • Yelling Cambridgeshire
Re: Loose minerals for sheep
« Reply #10 on: December 13, 2013, 03:38:27 pm »
ok im confused, I have shetlands, soays and castlemilks and crosses of these and I was told they mustn't have copper? help!

Bramblecot

  • Joined Jul 2008
Re: Loose minerals for sheep
« Reply #11 on: December 13, 2013, 04:47:43 pm »
Devon lad - you make me  :roflanim: .  Scats and MVF seem to have a whole range of salt licks on offer and now I'm confused which one to put out  :-\ .  I now just put them in the base of the hay feeder.  I notice the wethers, even as lambs, seem to use them far more than the ewes.  Any ideas why?

darkbrowneggs

  • Joined Aug 2010
    • The World is My Lobster
Re: Loose minerals for sheep
« Reply #12 on: December 13, 2013, 04:54:37 pm »
LadyK - I just had it in a hanging manger/bucket type feeder but under cover.  As most of my fields had a shelter of some description it wasn't much of a problem.  Sorry that probably isnt much help  :-[
To follow my travel journal see http://www.theworldismylobster.org.uk

For lots of info about Marans and how to breed and look after them see www.darkbrowneggs.info

ladyK

  • Joined Dec 2012
  • Conwy Valley
Re: Loose minerals for sheep
« Reply #13 on: December 14, 2013, 03:30:06 pm »
What I like most about the free choice mineal offer (rather than offering a pre-mixed block, which I already do anyway) is the concept that sheep can (and will) help themselves to exactly what they individually need at any given time.

I think I might use a wooden planter trough (easily built but also found offered cheaply on ebay) with added bits to separate into compartments and a rubber covering to make something like the 'low-boy feeder' Foobar suggested.
"If one way is better than another, it is the way of nature." (Aristotle)

darkbrowneggs

  • Joined Aug 2010
    • The World is My Lobster
Re: Loose minerals for sheep
« Reply #14 on: December 14, 2013, 04:53:34 pm »
For some reason they never seemed to bother to feed together unless they hadnt had any for a while in which case the most dominant would feed first, but as it is always there you dont need to allow "space" as such as they just go over for a munch when they feel the need
To follow my travel journal see http://www.theworldismylobster.org.uk

For lots of info about Marans and how to breed and look after them see www.darkbrowneggs.info

 

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