“Getting the basics of good animal husbandry right by using a bolus to ensure sheep and cattle always have sufficient levels of key trace elements iodine, selenium, cobalt and if needed copper makes sound business sense.”
This is the view of Kilkenny-based, Rory Dicker, the Irish, commercial manager for Animax, the specialist manufacturer of trace element boluses.
“Nowadays, the emphasis is on preventing costly livestock health problems by drawing up an animal health plan with your farm vet, providing the correct diet and general good husbandry.”
“That must include stock having adequate levels of iodine, selenium, cobalt and id needed copper available year-round.”
A major deficiency in any of these trace elements leads to poor thrive and greater susceptibility to a whole range of costly health challenges. “Even sub-clinical deficiencies mean that animals do not perform optimally, and young stock take longer to mature.”
According to Teagasc, “Under Irish farming conditions, copper deficiency is the most common deficiency to affect beef cattle.
Other less common, but significant trace element deficiencies, are cobalt deficiency and selenium deficiency.
Farmers are also reminded that high-quality grass, though full of protein and energy, does not always provide a complete diet especially at a time of rapid sward growth.
Indeed, according to the UCD Dairy Herd Health Group herd, cases of trace element deficiency also arise relatively frequently in Ireland.
Rogers and Murphy (2000) reported that within Irish grass silages 63% are low in copper, 43% are very low in iodine, 69% are very low in selenium and 29% are low in zinc.
So, diets have to be balanced to protect animal performance and farm margins. There are several options including specialised mineral rations, mineral buckets and liquid drenches.
“However, long-lasting leaching boluses from Animax have many practical advantages as regards saving time and money on a busy family farm.
Giving stock boluses is a once a season task, at turnout and housing as they last up for 180 days. That ticks a lot of boxes as regards sheer convenience, time saved, and peace of mind gained.”
Indeed, Teagasc did an interesting Trace Mineral bolus study on 1,381 cows on two Teagasc research farms and three commercial farms.
“So, boluses are an excellent example of how livestock performance and your family farm income can be simply protected and improved.”