Monday, 1 October 2018

Without a trace – why micronutrients matter


Ensuring the best for our animals when it comes to growth, development, immunity and fertility is paramount. That is why it’s important to consider the role trace elements play in overall stock health.

Trace elements are by no means a miracle boost for stock performance. If you are supplementing stock that already have adequate trace element levels, you are unlikely to see any obvious change in animal health or behaviour.

However, if levels are below optimum, stock performance can be severely affected. Depending on the trace element and the type of animal, symptoms can be as general as ill-thrift (copper and zinc) ranging through to more specific issues of weak new born lambs with goitre from iodine deficiency.

How do deficiencies happen?

Deficiencies can either be primary or secondary. Primary deficiencies are caused by insufficient levels of the trace element in their diet, while secondary deficiencies occur when the pasture contains something that inhibits the uptake of a trace element.

Table 1: Trace elements - sheep and cattle


Animal Health


Cobalt (Co)

Critically important for vitamin B12 production. Loss of appetite and poor growth 

Cobalt sulphate in spring fertiliser application. Stock Cobalt. Dairy Cow Minerals by drench, water, feed and Lift B12 injection. 

Copper (Cu)

Ill-thrift, sway back, bone problems and poor reproduction.

Cooper Sulphate in autumn fertiliser application, Stock Copper, Dairy Cow Minerals by drench, water, feed and follar (plant leaf) application. 

Iodine (I)

Goltre (enlarged thyroid gland), still births, small weak offspring. 

Stock Iodine, Dairy Cow Minerals by drench, water, feed and follar application, injectable Iodine is also used.

Selenium (Se)

Ill-thrift, white muscle disease, reduced production and fertility. 

Selprill Double in fertiliser (lasts for 12 months), Stock Selenium, Dairy Cow Minerals by drench, water and feed and Lift B12 Selenised injection. 

Stock requirements

Luckily, trace elements are both inexpensive and easy to feed out. Giving ruminants daily doses of essential elements is the best way to avoid deficiencies.

Ravendown’s Dairy Cow Mineral Range will ensure your cows have the trace elements they need and can be given through the feed or via drinking water. Addition of trace elements to fertiliser (eg Selprill Double), injecting and oral drenching are other options.

Interested in having a chat about mineral health or your stock? Let our Customer Centre know on 0800 100 123, and they will put you in touch with your local Animal Health expert.