The Scottish Government has granted an emergency authorisation for cobalt salts in livestock feed to prevent the essential mineral falling off the market.

Cobalt’s authorisation was due to lapse in the middle of July unless re-approved. Historically, this was conducted by EU authorities but now needs domestic approval and so ScotGov issued an emergency authorisation which comes into force at the end of June and will expire in July, 2026.

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NFU Scotland welcomed the announcement. Its livestock policy manager, Lisa Hislop, said: “Cobalt supplementation is essential to our livestock industry, in particular our sheep sector. It is a vital element for healthy animals and deficiency can result in debilitation, anaemia, emaciation and stunted growth.

"With 63% of Scotland’s land at high risk of cobalt deficiency, it is estimated that 75% of Scottish lambs and 40% of breeding ewes are regularly given cobalt. The potential loss of the use of cobalt in July this year would have coincided with the peak demand for cobalt supplementation in spring born lambs grazing hill pasture.”

With almost two-thirds of Scotland’s land is at high risk of cobalt deficiency, technical director at Norvite, David McClelland, said: “We were able to work with the regulators to demonstrate how important the nutrient is to the sector, particularly young lambs growing through summer.

"We were coming to towards the deadline and there looked to be not enough time for re-approval, but we are glad everyone took a pragmatic approach and we got emergency authorisation in the end. If it had hit the deadline, cobalt would have fallen out of the regulations.”