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Author Topic: Minerals for fleece improvement  (Read 1033 times)


  • Joined Sep 2012
  • Scottish Borders, north of Moffat
    • Hawkshaw Sheep yarn
Minerals for fleece improvement
« on: August 06, 2021, 08:49:05 am »
We have just had the sheep sheared, and an awful lot of the fleeces were, to put it mildly, rubbish.
I have my fleeces processed into yarn, so the quality is important to me.
My sheep are mainly Shetlands, who live out on hill land all year, without any supplementary feeding, except for a few energy licks prior to lambing, most years the fleeces are OK, but this last winter was extremely tough for them, we had snow on the ground for 5 weeks at the start of the year, then there was that awful spell in May. I know I canít control the weather, and I canít change the way my sheep are kept, which is one of the reasons for the rubbish fleece this year.
Iím sure Iíve read somewhere that there are some minerals that can can be given improve the fleece, does anyone know what these are. I realise that it wonít improve a sheep that genetically has a poor fleece, but the majority of mine do have good fleeces usually.
Cheviot, Shetland and Hebridean sheep.


  • Joined Feb 2011
  • Cornwall
  • Rarely short of an opinion but I mean well
    • Trelay Cohousing Community
Re: Minerals for fleece improvement
« Reply #1 on: August 06, 2021, 09:24:09 am »
Ollie Henry reckons tender fleece suggests cobalt.  Lack of copper can affect the colour in various ways.

The whole of the UK is deficient in cobalt, copper and selenium, and especially the sort of ground you describe.

My sheep now all get a chelated mineral drench going into winter, and if I think they need it, the hoggs and mothers get another at lambing time.  I don't include copper in both of those but once every year or two, unless I can see they need more.

For the benefit of other readers, only include copper if you are sure your sheep need it.  Too much copper is toxic, and some breeds are particularly susceptible, notably North Ronaldsay.  Texels can cope with lower copper levels than most breeds, so take care to not overdose them too.  Another symptom of copper deficiency is swayback in lambs; if you get that, your ewes need a copper bolus, needles or chelated drench about 6 weeks into pregnancy.  (You can't fix the lamb, sadly, but you can prevent it occurring in subsequent years with copper for the pregnant ewes.)  We used to have to give our Mules copper needles or a chelated drench containing copper, or would get the occasional swayback lamb, but the Swaledales didn't have problems if we didn't give them additional copper.
Don't listen to the money men - they know the price of everything and the value of nothing

Live in a cohousing community with small farm for our own use.  Dairy cows (rearing their own calves for beef), pigs, sheep for meat and fleece, ducks and hens for eggs, veg and fruit growing


  • Joined May 2010
  • South Lanarkshire
    • ScotHebs
Re: Minerals for fleece improvement
« Reply #2 on: August 06, 2021, 11:46:54 am »

Hi Sue  :wave:

A great way of delivering Copper, Cobalt and Selenium is as a Co-secure bolus for uptake from the rumen:

Cosecure Sheep Bolus (

Our ground is less extreme than yours but we do use co-secure most years and are delighted with the results.
We started using it as our black sheep started showing a 'tideline' of grey throughout the fleeces, worse in some years than others, and Co-secure was first developed for Hebrideans and black cattle.  Although it is the grey that the society was concerned about, lack of these minerals also causes some harshness in the fleece, not so easy to see in white sheep without the telltale greying.
As your sheep are not housed, co-secure is quite safe and its main advantage over doses given once or twice a year is that it gives a continuous small dose every day.  Read the blurb in the link, which should mention how well its absorbed and the usual impediments to absorption with copper.
Administration is a bit of a knack but once you get the hang of it it's ok. Sometimes the bolus gets spat out and you'll find one in the pasture. You can tell who did it later in the year by the unimproved fleece!
It comes in a lamb sized dose and an adult one - if your Shetlands are small you could try the lamb size first.
I much prefer Co-secure to faffing about with drenches etc.  I have never got the date right for giving the bolus though - ideally you would think sometime in winter, at the point when the new fleece is about to appear.
"Let's not talk about what we can do, but do what we can"

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  • Joined Sep 2012
  • Scottish Borders, north of Moffat
    • Hawkshaw Sheep yarn
Re: Minerals for fleece improvement
« Reply #3 on: August 09, 2021, 08:09:46 am »
Thank you,
I knew vaguely in the back of my mind there was something you could do for fleece.
Iíve just been using a general mineral drench.
@Fleecewife Iíll look into the boluses as they sound ideal, thank you both for replying.
Cheviot, Shetland and Hebridean sheep.


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