The lambing season provides an ideal window to carry out routine management practices that improve animal health for the year ahead and it's one which should also include the opportunity to supply necessary trace elements.

Often overlooked at busy times of the year, Dr Elizabeth Berry, animax company veterinary director said addressing a flock's trace element needs are vital to ensure animals go into the spring without losing weight, or having a weakened immune system.

"Trace elements are essential for cell metabolism and many other body functions, including energy production, growth, reproduction and the nervous system so they do have a major impact on animal performance," said Dr Berry.

She said flockmasters should consider their options, but pointed out that the most effective, and labour saving product is a leaching bolus, which offers up to six months supplementation. This is particularly useful if sheep are grazed on fells, or away from the farm or adequate handling facilities as it provides a slow release, consistent supply of trace elements, and is the optimal size to ensure retention. This gives you peace of mind that the product is doing its job and eliminates uncertainty.

Furthermore, by balancing the diet correctly, sheep farmers can maximise the benefits of home grown forages or grass, thereby increasing the nutritional efficiency of the feed. Boluses reduce the cost of concentrates, or supplementary feeds, by ensuring that forage or grass is utilised much more effectively, she said.

“By using a leaching bolus pre-lambing, the ewe is prepared for the demands of lambing and in better condition for milk supply. The benefits are passed from ewe to lamb so you will be giving the lambs the best start you can – which will be evident in their growth rates and vigour.

“One major advantage of a leaching bolus is that the rate of release is regulated only by the rate of water infiltration, and so does not vary between different animals. This is important as farmers aim to produce consistent animals, and the leaching technology is a tool which helps to deliver uniform stock.

“With the modern demands of sheep farming, we need to focus on ways to work smarter and embrace labour-saving technology that provides best practice for our flocks. Products that offer effective, labour saving benefits and support animal performance should be adopted within farm management plans,” concluded Dr Berry.