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Lamb weaning: trace mineral considerations

Weaning time is an important time in a lamb’s life. Sheep producers are reminded of the importance that nutrition plays in managing stress and easing transition for both ewes and lambs. One of the most important factors for sheep producers to consider during this time is managing trace minerals in weaned lambs.

The trace mineral status of the neonatal lamb depends on placental transfer of trace minerals and trace mineral concentrations in the colostrum. Maternal trace mineral status (ewe) can have a significant effect on lamb health. Trace minerals received through the placenta and colostrum are stored in the lamb’s liver.  As lambs grow they will make use of their stored minerals; this could lead to lambs having a sub-optimal trace mineral status at weaning time.

Weaning and the effects of separation stress during weaning, can see lambs’ feed intake drop and subsequently reduce mineral intake from pasture and other sources. This can have a dramatic impact on post-weaning growth performance and even negatively affect the lamb’s long-term growth potential, as well as the reproductive performance of replacement ewes.

The stress of weaning also has a detrimental effect on the immune system and the animal is exposed to a variety of infectious agents as a result of handling, transportation and co-mingling in a new environment. Subclinical diseases may still arise despite trace elements being fed according to NRC requirements, if other negative factors such as stress, are concomitant. After weaning, the lamb enters unfamiliar environments and groups, with a reduction in feed intake most likely. This deprives their immune system of the trace minerals needed to prevent oxidative stress and mount an effective immune response. Trace minerals play an important role as antioxidants in enzyme systems, that counter the excessive production of reactive oxygen species and the damage they cause to cells.

We can assist lambs at this critical period of weaning, by giving a Top Up of trace minerals by way of injection. This will ensure that they have optimal levels of trace minerals for optimal production performance, immunity and growth. Injectable trace minerals are an effective way of topping up trace minerals when the animal needs it the most. Administering trace minerals via injection, avoids antagonistic reactions in the rumen and there are also no issues in competing for absorption sites in the gastrointestinal tract. Injectable trace minerals also compensate for a possible drop in trace mineral intake during weaning, when feed intake drops. 

Make sure you use a tried, tested and trusted, as well as a balanced and effective formulation of injectable trace minerals - use Multimin®, the Top Up that gives you the insurance and peace of mind you and your lambs need at weaning! 


Contact your Virbac Technical Sales Advisor

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