“Helps cattle make better use of what they eat”

This was said not by a slick marketing consultant but beef and sheep farmer Roy Magowan from Hilltown, Co Down.

In a DIY trial on two lots of continental-cross heifers, Roy gave Tracesure boluses to the group of smaller cattle and left the batch of bigger ones without. By the time bolused heifers were finished and sold, he says the originally better batch “were still miles behind, despite getting extra meal.”

Since then, Roy Magowan gives the boluses, available in ROI as Allsure, twice a year, at spring turnout and again at housing, and reports “a massive difference as a result.

“They work really well for me,” he says. “Animals not only gain more weight, their coats look better too. These boluses clearly allow cattle to make better use of what they eat.”

In explanation, vet Dr Elizabeth Berry points out that much of the country’s grazed or conserved grass is deficient in essential trace elements. “Without supplementation, functions affected by deficiencies include immunity, energy metabolism, digestive enzymes and breeding hormones,” she explains.

“Sub-optimal function in any one of these is likely to have adverse effects on animal productivity and financial performance. Trace element supplementation to help calves and yearlings make maximum use of forage is good business as well as affordable.

“Among available methods – drenching, in-feed minerals, free-access licks, etc – one offering 180-days’ duration, single handling, and constant trickle-charge of trace elements is a Tracesure bolus.

“Giving this leaching bolus just twice a year is easy, with a short video demonstration and telephone advice available for first-timers.”

Leaching bolus technology was developed by and is exclusive to Animax. The company’s specialists are available for information about the most suitable bolus to use for specific circumstances.

Same for dairy youngstock or sheep

Until a UK-EU trade deal is signed, it is anybody’s guess how it will impact sheep prices. While in dairying, the ups and downs of milk prices hardly make things certain.

Amid such uncertainty, it makes sense to focus on things you can control that will impact productivity and help minimise avoidable losses and production costs.

One obvious example is maximising productivity from forage. In sheep or heifer rearing, exactly the same principles apply as alongside.

Even if winter forage is plentiful enough to supply all energy and protein needs, most is deficient in some trace elements whose functions in metabolic processes mean shortages will limit all ruminants’ ability to utilise nutrients in forage fully.

For example, cobalt is needed by rumen bugs for producing vitamin B12, an essential component in energy metabolism and producing red blood cells. Iodine regulates metabolism and conversion of food into energy. Selenium is needed for enzyme synthesis and plays a crucial part in immune function and fertility. And where copper is also deficient, most farmers already know about the consequences from past bad experience.

Tracesure is known as Allsure in Ireland. Farmers can get more information from Animax livestock specialists here.