Bucket licks still lead the way for ewes

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Since the first bucket lick was produced about 30 years ago, sheep farmers still view this ad lib method as one of the best options for supplementing the Ewe.

So what has been the reason for this persistence? Mark Crawford of Topflock explains.

“Quite simply you can put a lot of good things in a bucket. Few other methods allow you to supply high quality protein, energy, trace elements and other additives such as fish oils from one source.

“Consistent intakes are also achieved as all ingredients can be dispersed evenly throughout the bucket.

“Hence a 200g sample will contain the same levels of nutrients as any other in the bucket.”

Mark goes on to explain how it is also in the method of delivery.

“Supplementing the Ewe in late pregnancy is critical as all farmers know and it is therefore important the correct supplement is used. By pass protein will be the priority followed by quality trace elements.

“This should also be provided in as stress free as possible,” Mark explains further.

“The ewe will be under enough stress as it is (weather, low energy grass and general movement) so you do not want to add to it.

“Bucket licks are ideal in this scenario if used properly as they support the animal getting their daily intake naturally.”

So what does used properly mean?

You would think it would be just a matter of leaving the bucket out with the flock.

Mark advises: “It is not that simple and this probably explains why some farmers are nervous about some livestock not using the bucket. This however is rarely the case if used properly.

“What can happen is that if only one or two buckets are left with a large flock in a large field, it will not support the natural foraging behaviour of the sheep.

“Buckets should therefore be strategically placed around the field and moved as the sheep move to new areas with more grass.

“The key to the bucket is that the sheep should not feel they have to make a long journey to one.

“Therefore there should be at least one bucket per twenty ewes.”

One final piece of advice: “Try not to leave the bucket beside a drinker or water source.

“This tends to increase intakes and hence shorten the life of the bucket, not to mention damage to the ground.”

For more information or advice on supplementing in late pregnancy, contact Mark Crawford on 07733346310.