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Weaning and the importance of trace minerals

Key points

  • Weaning is one of the highest demand periods for livestock.
  • Lambs undergo dietary changes and physiological challenges as they are separated from the ewes resulting in a drop in feed intake, reducing trace mineral intake from pasture and other sources.
  • Trace minerals copper, selenium, zinc, and manganese have strong links with immune function.
  • Multimin® injection is a scientifically proven, rapidly absorbed, ‘top-up’ of four essential trace minerals.

High rainfall can lead to large amounts of green feed becoming available for livestock. However, despite the lush appearance, rapidly growing spring pastures are low in trace minerals such as selenium, copper, and cobalt. Livestock, particularly sheep, obtain several essential trace minerals from soil intake when they graze short pastures before the autumn break. Hence, animals grazing rapidly growing pastures have a reduced likelihood of trace mineral intake via the soil. 1

Lambs have a higher demand for trace minerals

Further concerns arise as growing lambs have a higher demand for trace minerals; they are born with limited reserves stored in their body, and the milk is a poor source of trace minerals; therefore, they are more likely to suffer clinical or marginal trace mineral deficiencies at weaning. 2 

The importance of weaning

Weaning is one of the most demanding periods for livestock. Lambs undergo dietary changes as they are separated from the ewes resulting in a drop in feed intake reducing trace mineral intake from pasture and other sources. Weaners require trace minerals for optimum growth and immunity. Young sheep have an underdeveloped immune system and are more susceptible to parasites and disease challenges. Trace minerals copper, selenium, zinc, and manganese have strong links with immune function. 2

Reviewing your trace mineral supplementation strategy

It is important for sheep producers to review their trace mineral supplementation strategies prior to lambing and weaning. Multimin Injection for Sheep provides sheep with essential trace minerals required at key demand periods such as weaning, joining, lambing, transport and induction to feedlot 3.

Why Multimin for Sheep?

Multimin injection is a scientifically proven, rapidly absorbed, ‘top-up’ of four essential trace minerals 4-6.

There are multiple key strategic times for use of Multimin in sheep – four weeks pre-lambing helps to optimise the health and performance of both the dam and the offspring with a single injection7,8

In ewes and rams, the trace minerals included in Multimin help to improve conception rates, embryo survival and sperm quality 9-14.  Australian studies have demonstrated that using Multimin® four weeks pre-joining and four weeks pre-lambing in ewes can improve lamb marking rates by an average of 9% and weaning weights by an average of  2.3 kg 14 with direct economic benefits for producers.

Multimin® can also be used at the same time as vaccination at or before weaning to help improve immune responses to vaccination 15-17.

Multimin and Oral Supplementation

Multimin is NOT intended to be used as a replacement for year-round oral trace mineral supplementation in the feed or water. Multimin supports an existing well designed oral feed program for optimised performance. Multimin should be used prior to high demand periods such as weaning, joining, lambing, transport and induction to feedlot 3. Therefore, to optimise sheep  performance, consider using Multimin and oral supplements as part of a complete nutrition program.

For more information about how Multimin® can improve the health and performance of your livestock, contact your local Virbac Area Sales Manager or Virbac Customer Service Support 1800 242 100.

References 

  1. Hosking, W.J., et al (1986). ‘Trace elements for pastures and animals in Victoria’. Department of Agriculture and Rural Affairs. Melbourne.
  2. Suttle, N. (2010). Mineral Nutrition of Livestock, 4th Edition. CABI, Cambridge. 
  3. Refer to the registered labels.
  4. Hansen (2010) Effects of Multimin®90 on trace mineral status of Angus and Simmental calves. Iowa State University, Department of Animal Science.*
  5. Pogge, D. J. et al. (2012). Mineral concentrations of plasma and liver after injection with a trace mineral complex differ among Angus and Simmental cattle. J. Anim. Sc. 90(8), 2692-2698.*
  6. Larsen (2017), McKinnon Project, AEC 1714214
  7. Shao, T. et al. (2020). Effects of Maternal Supplementation with an Injectable Trace Mineral Containing Copper, Manganese, Zinc, and Selenium on Subsequent Steer Finishing Phase Performance and Carcass Characteristics. Animals, 10(12), 2226.
  8. Hidiroglou, M., & Knipfel, J. E. (1981). Maternal-foetal relationships of copper, manganese, and sulfur in ruminants. A review. J. Dairy Sc., 64(8), 1637-1647.
  9. Ghorbani, A. et al. (2018). Influences of dietary selenium, zinc and their combination on semen characteristics and testosterone concentration in mature rams during breeding season, J. Appl. Anim. Res.46(1):813-819.
  10.  Piagentini, M. (2017). Effect of selenium supplementation on semen characteristics of Brazil’s ram. Reprod. Domest. Anim. 52(3). 355-358. 6.
  11. Masters, D.G. et al. (1988). Influence of manganese intake on body, wool and testicular growth of young rams and on the concentration of manganese and the activity of manganese enzymes in tissues. Aust. J. Agri. Res.39:517–524.
  12. Underwood, E.J. and Somers, M. (1969). Studies of zinc nutrition in sheep. 1. The relation of zinc to growth, testicular development and spermatogenesis in young rams. Aust. J. Agri. Res. 20: 889–897.
  13. Swaney, S, 2014, ‘Increasing conception rates in sheep by using an injectable trace mineral product prior to joining in diverse regions across Australia’, Virbac data on file. 
  14. Gonzalez-Rivas P.A., et al (2021) Effect of a trace mineral injection before joining and lambing on conception rate, marking rate and lamb weights in diverse farms in Victoria. Animal Production in Australia 33, cxxviii.
  15. Arthington, J. D., & Havenga, L. J. (2012). Effect of injectable trace minerals on the humoral immune response to multivalent vaccine administration in beef calves. J. Anim. Sci., 90(6), 1966-1971.* 
  16. Palomares, R. et al. (2016). Effects of injectable trace minerals on humoral and cell-mediated immune responses to Bovine Viral Diarrhea Virus, Bovine Herpes Virus 1 and Bovine Respiratory Syncytial Virus following administration of a modified-live virus vaccine in dairy calves. Vet. Immunol. Immunopathol., 178:88-98.* 
  17. Ball, M. (2016). Trace mineral injection enhances antibody response to botulism vaccination. AVA Proceedings, Adelaide.* 

The benefits outlined in the above scientific studies may not necessarily be registered label claims. *Multimin used in this trial contained different levels of minerals compared to those registered in Australia and or was evaluated in species other than sheep.  Multimin® is a registered trademark of Virbac.