Greater intake from copper antagonists likely

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Copper deficiency and the effects on fertility may be partly due to the antagonist molybdenum and this is a complicated area. In sheep, delayed oestrous may be reported, along with poor conception rates and in some cases anoestrous may occur.

Dr. Elizabeth Berry BVSc, PhD MRCVS, company veterinary director at Animax says: “Copper availability can vary during the year and can be very weather dependant.

“Both wet and dry conditions mean that more soil can be ingested/eaten when grazing at pasture. This increases the likelihood of a greater intake antagonists such as molybdenum and iron. Sulphur commonly found in proteins sources interacts with molybdenum and iron and binds copper.”

Dr. Berry continues: “The results of copper deficiencies in sheep with regards to fertility are well known, for example swayback due to copper deficiency during pregnancy, is a classic sign. In addition, there can be a poor display of oestrous, reduced fertility and poor lambing percentages at scanning.”

Dr. Berry adds: “Deficiencies in critical trace elements can result in poor sperm production and function in the ram. It is difficult, and sometimes expensive, to quantify the trace element status at any given time as levels can fluctuate. A preventative approach is therefore strongly recommended.

Access to minerals at grass can be very variable, and sometimes completely ineffective. Mineral licks, for example, can attract other wildlife, leading to a possible increase in disease risk, while water supplementation can make the water unpalatable. If adding to a ration you always run the risk of variable intakes. Drenches can be applied but need to be repeated frequently.

“The most effective and convenient way in which to eliminate any concerns about trace element status, is to give all animals a slow releasing bolus. The bolus will ensure that every individual animal gets the required levels to offset any deficiencies in a grazing system.

“With concerns over winter rations already at the forefront of farmers minds, ensuring trace element requirements are met at this critical time of year will not only prepare ewes and lambs for a fertile breeding season, but will also help to reduce the chance of unknown issues arising, and the associated stress, at this critical time.

Dr. Berry advises: “If you have any doubts about the trace element status of your animals, particularly with copper, speak to your vet, your nutritionist or your SQP.”

To learn how Animax’s unique leaching Tracesure® boluses can benefit you, contact Neill Acheson +44 (0)7795 434 986 neilla@animax-vet.com, or your nearest stockist.