When and how to provide minerals?
Solution name: When and how to provide minerals?
Aim: To cover the animals’ needs in minerals and vitamins whilst avoiding excesses. To provide a mineral supplementation plan for grazing ewes
When ewes are grazing, mineral and vitamin treatments at specific times are sufficient, i.e., one month before mating and at least one month before lambing. During the other physiological stages, it is recommended to apply a one-month treatment followed by one or two months without supplementation. However, salt must be accessible all year round.
How to implement it:
Different alternatives for intake, including their benefits and limitations, include:
- Vitaminised mineral feed (pellets or semolina) is the cheapest and most effective alternative for the animal.
- Pump feeds are effective but more expensive.
- Overconsumption of mineral licks, related to levels in molasses, is very expensive and can lead to health problems.
- Boluses are effective in case of a specific deficiency but are also more expensive, and do not replace important trace elements (although they are effective over a longer period).
- Drinkable and injectable shock doses (single intake) are poor value for money.
- Addition of an element to grasslands through enriched fertilisers (e.g., selenium) is less effective than direct assimilation by the animal.
- If there is no particular health problem in the herd, organic or chelated forms do not suffice (unless there is too much of an element which cannot be corrected)
Production: Dairy / Meat
Animal Category: Adult / Replacement
Issue: Minerals and vitamins supplementation
Level of Solution: Practical
Covering the animals’ needs with the best quality/price ratio.
Cost Benefit analysis
Improve the level of mineral income will cost approximately 3€ per ewe (French reference), but can reduce the medicine cost by 5% because the flock will be in better health. A good level of mineral input will allow a better fertility of the ewes and a better productivity of the flock.
A good mineral complementation will allow a better flock efficiency, so a reduction of the GHG emission per product unit. As minerals are not totally assimilated by the ewe and go back to the soil, it can generate a potential positive impact on biodiversity.
Regarding the social indicators, with a good mineral complementation, animals are in better health, so the welfare of the flock is improved.
Prerequisites and/or limits
Animals that show no particular deficiency are not concerned by these recommendations.