Livestock farmers need to be more aware of increasing variations in the trace element status of land if they are to make the most of the narrow margins now predominant in sheep and beef enterprises, believes Levens Hall Estate farm manager Stephen Lord. Greater variability in weather conditions are now affecting the nutrient status of grazing on a year-by-year basis and livestock businesses must become more aware of the damaging economic effects of poorly managed trace element problems, Mr Lord says.
Iodine deficiency causes weaker lambs at birth with some being stillborn. The effects of iodine deficiency can be very difficult to see, but sub-clinical levels tend to be picked up through fertility issues, such as animals not coming into heat and poor holding to service. The most important time for ensuring animals have the correct levels of trace elements is in the run-up to conception and during the period of pregnancy itself when they are under the most physiological stress. Generally speaking, if you test blood, deficiencies can be picked up before clinical signs are apparent.