Sheep Supplement Trial
A joint project “Production and Financial Impacts of Vitamin and Mineral Supplementation in sheep in NSW” between MerinoLink Limited and Charles Sturt University has successfully been funded by the NSW Sheep Industry Fund.
This project is researching the use of mineral and vitamin supplements by NSW sheep producers as well as trialing commonly used supplements in field trials to determine the production and financial impact of supplement use in different sheep enterprises.
The project received ministerial approval on the 19th of December 2014, which led to the administrative set up of research project including animal ethics and human ethics approvals. The project timeline involve 5 sites in 2015 and 5 sites in 2016, concluding in November 2016.
Results of an initial pilot survey amongst MerinoLink members in October 2014 showed that 82% of respondents (n=40) provide their sheep with a vitamin or mineral supplement.
A more in depth producer survey was designed and implemented between April 2015 and June 2015 and confirmed results of the pilot survey that many producers use a range of mineral and vitamin supplements for various reasons. Results of both surveys were used to finalise the field trial protocols and select the trial products.
The products that will be trialed include: a ruminant stimulating oral drench, an oral mineral drench and injectable vitamin supplements. All the products that have been selected can be administered to the animal directly (weaners and adult ewes) either by oral drench or vaccination. This was important to ensure the randomly allocated animals had the correct dose of the product.
- Vitamin ADE
- Mineral Supplement
- Cobolt, copper, zinc, manganese, selenium, magnesium, iodine, potassium, sulphur
- Rumen prebiotic digestion enhancer
- Sea weed extract
There were many suggestions to look at loose lick supplements and lick blocks. The trial design and set up for these products is outside the scope of the current project, however it is being considered as a future option.
Recruitment of trial properties was limited to MerinoLink members and is split between Autumn/Winter and Spring lambing systems. The properties are located near Molong, Young, Temora, Jugiong and Orange. There are opportunities to identify additional locations in 2016.