Stephen Lyall manages his family farm in Carlisle, Cumbria, and is currently milking 300 Holstein cows – but a problem with retained 'cleanings' had been producing problems for the herd.

This is milked through a 16 x 16 Westfailia Surge herringbone parlour, with lactation now averaging 11,500 litres on a twice a day milking regime. Milk is sold to Arla, with a milk quality butter fat of 4.1% and protein at 3.3%, with recording carried out by CIS.

In 2015, the Lyall family were awarded the longevity award from National Milk Records with a cow which had successfully produced milk for 10 years.

However, it wasn’t always smooth sailing on the farm and many years ago the Lyall family contacted their vet, David Black, of Paragon Vets, to help get to the root cause of issues they were encountering. Their herd of Holsteins were experiencing retained foetal membranes (RFM) post-calving and Stephen wanted to understand the root cause of the issue.

Through his investigations, David Black determined that trace element deficiencies were likely playing a role, specifically selenium deficiency.

Consequently, he recommended introducing the Cosecure cattle trace element bolus to both the cows and heifers at dry off. This is the only licensed (POM-VPS) multiple trace element bolus in the UK.

Following on from the introduction of Cosecure to the herd, RFM was much reduced. The bolus is made of a soluble glass which delivers trace elements that are important for health and fertility at a controlled and constant rate for up to six months.

In addition to selenium, Cosecure Cattle supplies ionic copper and ionic cobalt at levels which are compatible with an animal’s daily requirements. This was the only multiple trace element bolus in the UK which was shown to improve fertility of dairy cattle in an independent trial, said the company.

Over time, the Lyalls moved to the CoseIcure bolus, which also supplies iodine to better meet the nutritional requirements of their herd. These have become an important part of herd health management on the farm.

The programme, which was started in 1993, continues to this day, almost three decades later, with each cow or heifer will receiving CoseIcure four weeks before calving.

Local vet practice, Paragon, visits the farm weekly to carry out routine health checks on the herd and their vet, Bruce Richards, has worked with the family for many years. Due to the continued flourishing of the herd, the next generation of this farming family will be able to join the team next year on completion of his education at the local secondary school.

Stephen commented: ‘I would recommend that any farmer who is experiencing unexplained health, fertility or calving issues carries out an investigation with their vet which includes a trace element and/or mineral analysis.

"On our farm, the trace element issues which were impacting the health of our herd were resolved through the use of the Cosecure and CoseIcure boluses. I would recommend that farmers who are in a similar situation speak to their vet about whether this product could be a useful aid on their farms.’