Dual benefit of labour savings and maintaining healthy ewes in Animax-bolused flock
A sheep farmer who had been giving his ewes a cobalt drench multiple times a year is making important labour savings by replacing that system with a slow-release trace element bolus – given just twice annually.
Historically, John Fagan had drenched his sheep, as his land at Gartlandstown near Crookedwood, County Westmeath was deficient in cobalt. However, when the Department of Agriculture, Food and Marine introduced the Sheep Welfare Scheme, John took advantage of the mineral supplementation options in that scheme to switch to Animax’s Sheep & Lamb trace element boluses, which contain cobalt, selenium and iodine.
“I had been holding back from bolusing over the years but I talked to other guys that I buy pedigree rams from and they really have been encouraging me to use the Animax bolus because they have seen the benefit of using it,” John explains.
He now boluses with Animax’s Sheep & Lamb pre-breeding in September and again, in February, before the ewes’ lamb.
The benefits, he says, have been twofold. “When your sheep are in good condition, you’ll have a thriving lamb and you need less labour. When the lambs are born, they get up and are vigorous. This reduces my overall labour on the farm and labour is a huge challenge for sheep farmers at the moment.” His flock scanned at just under 200% in 2018 and John wants to continue with that progress.
He says a downside to liquid drenches is that they need to be given frequently. “You constantly have to keep giving it, at least every 2-3 weeks, and that is extra labour to bring the sheep in and give them cobalt. Animax’s bolus lasts for six months so it minimises any deficiencies in the diet over a much longer period. Any sheep that is not thriving is not profitable. Anything that improves the well-being of the ewe for me is well worth the investment. The fact that the bolus provides six months’ cover for cobalt, iodine and selenium ensures the optimum sheep health”.
Neill Acheson, Northern Ireland Representative explains “Animax’s boluses enter the animal’s rumen-reticulum and lodges there. Animax’s unique leaching technology which means that the essential trace elements [Cobalt, Copper oxide, Iodine and Selenium] in the bolus, leach out at a consistent and known rate for up to 6 months. Our sheep products are sold with and without copper.”