Timing

‘TIMING’ IS THE CONTROLLING RULE OF GRASS PRODUCTIVITY AND ANIMAL NUTRITION

It is well documented that Timing of Animal Supplementation produces excellent results during gestation, lactation and through the life of the lamb or calf. Suggested Drenching with ESD (Essential Sheep Drench) 4 to 6 weeks pre and post tupping, 4 to 6 weeks pre and post lambing combined with the complimentary ELB (Essential licbloc) supplied ad-lib.

As Timing is all important in grassland management, sufficient food and nutrition provides the required protein, carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals and trace elements. Most diseases are a result of set stocking, poor grassland utilization, inadequate feeding and nutrition. Pasture fed animals could be ingesting lush grass with the DM (dry matter) as low as 15% to 20%  and  80% to 85% water which could present many deficiencies, one being Magnesium causing hypo-magnesium in lactating ewes.

Heavy compacted soils become anaerobic, high in Molybdenum and lock up Copper. The deficiency in lactating ewes may affect the nervous system of the unborn lamb and lambs being born with swayback.  Another problem is if these pregnant ewes have a Vitamin E deficiency the young lambs may have white muscle disease and die suddenly.

During wet conditions and grazing grass too short, the pastures become muddy or while feeding root crops, the sheep tend to take in a large amount of soil. Not only does this harm their teeth, but they ingest a lot of iron which also locks up Copper, although there may be sufficient Copper, a deficiency could develop.

Pasture fed animals face a daily supply of grass which can vary greatly in energy, protein, carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals and trace elements, further complicated by soil type, time of the year, rainfall, and management practices thus making it very difficult to assess the value of the nutrition the animal is ingesting. All things considered, it is highly likely that deficiencies are present. An effective method of treating a suspected deficiency is to treat a small group and observe the difference. This can be effective when say a Cobalt deficiency is suspected. Although there are many products available to the farmer a large number are used incorrectly, inefficiently and even dangerously. The majority of the supplement manufactures adopt a shot gun approach, whether you farm in John o’ Groats or Lands End, you buy the same formula.

Our approach is more area specific and can be farm specific with the Drench and LicBloc complimenting each other in the most digestible form to the microorganisms in the digestive track, the only complimentary system available.  We have collated many forage mineral reports and for example, the mean results for the OX postcode revealed some of the following results;

Phosphorous; LOW; this deficiency causes rickets, weak bone formation, poor growth, listlessness, weak or dead calves.

Magnesium; LOW; this deficiency causes hypomagnesaemia in lactating ewes which can occur more frequently in spring due to lush grass when the DM (Dry Matter)could be between 15% and 20% therefore 80% to 85% is water.

Sodium; LOW; this deficiency slows up the metabolism, reduces milk production, reduces feed conversion, drinks less water, tends to eat soil increasing the ingesting of Iron which tends to lock up Copper and inhibits the uptake of other trace elements.

Copper; LOW; this deficiency slows growth, less thrifty, causes anaemia, defects in the bone structure and nervous system (swayback) cardiovascular problems and reduced immunity. Often causes scours and poor response to anthelmintic.  Compacted soils high in Molybdenum also tend to lock up Copper.

Zinc; LOW: this deficiency inhibits sexual maturity, reduces sperm count and immunity to diseases, increases hoof disorders and disease, if Iodine is also deficient the lambs are slow to rise and suckle. High Calcium may suppress the uptake of Zinc.

Cobalt; LOW; the deficiency causes Pine in sheep, slow growth, weakness, fast deterioration, anaemia and death. Reduces milk supply and weak lambs are born. Sufficient Cobalt levels are there to nourish the rumens microorganisms that are then enabled to produce vital vitamin B12 essential for foetal development and absorption of vitamin A, B and E. Very important on poor forage. The ESD, Essential Sheep Drench boosts the Cobalt and the ELB, Essential Licbloc for sheep supplies the crucial daily requirement as Cobalt is not stored by the body and is required daily.

Selenium: tending towards LOW; deficiency causes slow growth and muscular degeneration, often causing death.

To see more on animal nutritional products, please click the ” shop” tag.

Pasture Planning

SPARE THE PLOUGH AND SPOIL THE NATURAL PASTURES! There is the view, if grass productivity declines, plough up, harrow to a fine seed bed and reseed, costing vast sums of money. We prefer to plan and implement the grassproductivity principles through precision well-designed, timed, rational grazing management principles and see the production increase naturally saving large sums of money. So paddock size and timing is tailor-made, and all soil improving should be regularly observed and monitored by soil testing. Signs of improvement will become evident in the volume of grass sward and varieties as the grassproductivity principles start to become established and more and more of the natural grasses and wild clover start to appear.

My sheep live entirely off grass, in very difficult and challenging conditions, however, by having the grassproductivity principles firmly established as my discipline, find that hour by hour, I can see the conditions in the cell and if modifications need to be made. Due to the heavy waterlogged clay soils and past damage to grass cover which affects productivity and the quality of the grazing, adjustments to the cells is easily made to compensate the problem while maintaining the holistic plan and structure. The other important aspect of grassproductivity is the quality of the forage being grazed by the stock which will vary in quality and quantity between say, 3000kgDM/ha and 1500kgDM/ha. The forage mineral reports taken between these levels indicate mineral differences which could effect their digestion. The grass forage mineral report taken from block 1at grass reading 2152kgDM/ha on the 6th May had the following results, Mg low, K high, Na very low, cation-anion balance high, Cu low, Zn very low, Co low, I low, Se low, Mo very high with relative copper antagonism very high. These are tell-tale signs of compacted soil where copper lock up is present.

These deficiencies will affect the flocks immune system, energy production, hormone system, vitamin production, blood production and reproduction. Deficient animals can scour, stunt growth and progressive loose condition, which initially may be missed if not carefully observed on a  day by day basis. In many cases the scouring is mistaken for worm infection and dosed unnecessarily. Most flocks I observe are scouring which I feel is a tell-tale sign of a forage imbalance. I have one ewe who is continually scouring and as a result, the flock has been drenched with a specific vitamin and mineral supplement and closely observed. Although the scouring has reduced in this ewe and all the other ewes are clean I feel the problem is in the nutrition of the grass. She being more sensitive is highlighting that there is a problem which through thorough research I have changed the lick to address the deficiencies the ewe is having difficulties with. A service we now provide is to take forage samples for analysis and assist the farmer by supplying the required mineral supplement in the form of drenches supported by correctly designed vitamin and mineral balancing licks. If more information is required, please do not hesitate to contact us.

 

What is Grass Productivity?

grassproductivity.com principles is maximizing production of this natural grassland resource while improving the soil biology and ensuring sustainable grass land management. By understanding the growth of grass in relation to the “S” curve and when to enter a cell to graze and when to exit is one of the secrets of GRASSPRODUCTIVITY. I am interested to see how the flock regenerate grassland and with their hoofs, break up the cap on the soil surface and increase seed to soil contact to restore perennial native grasses. This recovered fresh litter going back building further regeneration and discover what is in the viable soil seed bank? I am pushing to extremes with the stocking densities and hope to have some clear results by end of August. To start with the grass was woodier, more stem than leaf to a ratio of 80% wood and 20% leaf in most of the grassland. My theory is that dry matter standing has a break down value of 1, if lying flat a break down value of 10, and when tramped in by their hoofs the break down value jumps to 100, due to the close contact with fungi and litter. So the tramping is vital, not too little and not too much will increase the organic matter, enhance the rate of recovery, increase ground cover and increase the plant population. The grass growth is starting to increase and soon will be able to assess the recovery rate. With the recent grass measuring I have noticed that the grass growth recovery is very impressive with rich, succulent growth from the ground upwards and no dry woody growth at all, so that means a huge increase in the grass productivity and nutrition in the first years trial. The result is a doubling of the carrying capacity from the past year into this year.

The other important aspect to consider; what is the nutritional value of the grass the animal is ingesting. For more information on animal nutrition, please refer to the “services” tag.