Why is salt necessary?
Salt is an essential dietary requirement of all farmed livestock. It helps utilise feed efficiently by stimulating salivation, which aids digestion and makes fodder more palatable.
Rapidly growing or lactating animals are most prone to salt deficiency, which typically results in:
• Loss of appetite and poor intakes.
• Depressed growth rates.
• Poor milk production.
Observable symptoms of salt deficiency include cravings for salt, drinking urine and licking gates, walls, stones and earth.
Why are trace elements necessary?
Trace elements are naturally occurring metals which, in very small amounts – usually less than 10 parts per million – are necessary for the growth, development and health of all animals and humans. An imbalance or shortage may lead to sickness, deformities and even death.
The presence or absence of trace elements in livestock diets can profoundly affect growth, health, productivity, fertility and immune system performance.
Therefore, a continuous dietary supply of trace elements is vital protection against economic loss from unhealthy or underperforming livestock.
Why use supplements?
In the UK, mineral and trace element deficiencies are on the rise. There are several contributory causes:
• More intensive use of grassland.
• High forage diets and intensive production.
• Modern grass varieties with shallow root systems less able to absorb nutrients from the soil.
• Fertilisers that produce lush grass but with low trace element content.
It follows that fodder produced from new grass varieties or heavily fertilised grass crops will also yield feeds deficient in minerals and trace elements.
Compound feeds include some minerals and trace elements, but in their absence supplements must be provided in an alternative form.
There are also seasonal requirements for specific minerals. For example:
Lactating animals need extra magnesium in times of lush grass growth (primarily spring and autumn) to help protect against grass staggers. At these times, animals can lose more magnesium in milk production than their grass diet provides.
Phosphorus is strongly linked to reproductive performance. Most forages are relatively low in phosphorus. Without supplementation this can result in poor conception rates, high returns to service and general fertility problems.
In some grasslands sodium falls below the dietary minimum needed by cattle and sheep – and even more so in summer, when livestock sweat out large quantities of water and salt. Milk yield, growth and reproductive performance can all suffer significantly without supplementary sodium
What are chelates?
A chelate is a chemical compound consisting of a metal ion attached to at least two non-metal ions. This makes chelated supplements more chemically complex than non-chelated versions.
Chelated minerals are nutritionally valuable because their complex structures better survive passage through chemically hostile digestive systems and into the small intestine, where absorption into the bloodstream takes place. With non-chelated supplements, much of their potential is lost before they can benefit the animal.
Selected Rockies products include the Bioplex® range of organic chelates, specifically formulated to address key mineral deficiencies in all livestock species. The benefits include better growth, better reproduction and better tissue maintenance and repair.
Rockies are a highly cost-effective carrier for minerals and trace elements. The almost 100 per cent pure and extremely fresh salt used in Rockies is a magnet to animals but its self-rationing nature means that they will not gorge on Rockies as they may do on molasses based products.
The supplementation of Rockies during production is based on known rates of consumption, so you can be confident that your animals will take on average only as much as they require.
In the case of minerals that are particularly unpalatable, such as magnesium, the inclusion of Tasterite® natural flavouring ensures that target intakes are consistently met and that there is no wastage of the lick.
SC Cattle, SC Sheep and Chelated Rockies contain protected trace elements in the form of Bioplex® and Sel-Plex®. This makes these important minerals and trace elements more readily available to stock, and thus more effective in remedying any deficiencies.
How cost effective are Rockies?
A big practical advantage of Rockies is that there is no need to check daily consumption. Their exceptional palatability lets your stock regulate the amount they need, and our own data collected over many years is a reliable indicator of consumption.
For example, you can calculate that sheep and goats will take 5-10 grammes per day, at a maximum cost of less than 2 pence per day per animal. That consumption of course includes the correct daily dosage of essential trace elements and minerals.