All ruminants require a supply of cobalt in their diet to synthesis vitamin B12. This vitamin is vital for the metabolism of propionate required for energy and the formation of red blood cells. It is also required for making sulphur containing amino acids for wool growth so lambs suffering from cobalt deficiency often have a dry, course and open fleece.

Low soil levels are the root of the problem so many farmers will be aware they have a deficiency however new cases crop up year on year. Likewise, many cases will go under the radar, not noticed, but effecting overall performance and profitability.

Cobalt deficiency is often mistaken for a worm burden issue at first but the two issues do go hand in hand. Low cobalt levels knock the lambs immune system leading to increased worm burdens especially around periods of stress such as weaning, and high worm burdens lead to scouring which interrupts the absorption of cobalt. Along with poor fleece quality other symptoms are poor lambs performance, tears under the eyes, poor appetite and lethargy.

Issues with cobalt in lambs typical start to crop up post weaning as summer progresses and grazing quality declines. A veterinary diagnosis requires blood tests to be carried out. Wet weather, high stocking rates and poor grass growth can increase the risk of cobalt deficiency, so prevention is better than cure.

Mineral drenching at correct intervals or bolusing are fail safe solutions. The later can be given from 20kg of liveweight and 5 weeks of age and supply sufficient levels for 5 months. Loose minerals and buckets can also be used however the intakes of these must be monitored to ensure sufficient intakes. The extra cost of supplying cobalt is far exceeded by potential cost implications of poor lamb performance and reduced feed conversion rates.

We stock a full range of lamb bolus products and mineral drenches so please don’t hesitate to give us a call should you require any further information.

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