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Falling Mineral Levels Should Prompt Grass Testing

08 June 2015

UK – Grass is the best source of affordable minerals for sheep but a trend for falling forage mineral levels mean graziers should test pasture.

This is according to Rumenco technical manager, David Thornton, who said the decline is especially notable in single species swards. 

Speaking at the NSA North (National Sheep Association) event last week, Mr Thornton said farmers are capable of producing good feed at much less than the merchants can offer.

Rumenco's David Thornton has seen a decline in forage quality, particularly in single species swards. 

He prioritised cobalt and selenium as the first two elements to supplement.

“Grass is capable of producing a mountain of feed – 90-100 kilos of dry matter per hectare each day, although this tails off in summer and autumn time,” he said.

“We see the fibre level increase as the season progresses and dry matter drops.

“In terms of protein, early June can typically see 20 per cent protein levels and can be higher, this is the same as merchant’s feed.

He said increased production requirements from flocks and more reliance on forages in sheep rations could be why some farms are seeing nutrition issues.

Tupping and pre and post lambing nutrition is generally very good on farms but he urged farmers to consider ewe nutrition all year round.

“Test your grass and match supplements to what your farm needs,” he added. “You can always grow the selenium cheaper than companies like Rumenco can sell you it for so its important to find out what you aren’t giving your sheep.”

Iodine, Zinc, Selenium and Cobalt are key trace elements that ewes require that may need supplementing on grass. He noted Cobalt for its effect on vitamin B12, meaning it is a mainstay requirement.

Michael Priestley

Michael Priestley
News Team - Editor

Mainly production and market stories on ruminants sector. Works closely with sustainability consultants at FAI Farms.

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