Should You Be Using Supplements?
Feed flushing is an essential part of keeping animals’ nutrition and reproduction cycles healthy and efficient. It can also help achieve higher productivity rates and a more efficient and economically viable herd.
We give you the essentials on what feed flushing in sheep, goats, and cows consists of and how it can be efficiently carried out.
What is feed flushing and why is it important?
Feed flushing is giving your animals extra nutrition around the breeding season to help increase the rates of ovulation and conception. It also helps towards successful implantation of the embryo in the event of pregnancy.
When you look at your herd or flock as a whole, you may also find that flushing boosts the number of female animals that show signs of being sexually receptive or in oestrus.
This, in turn, can lead to an increase of lambing, kidding, or calving rates by 10 to 20 per cent, significantly boosting the productivity of the herd or flock.
When to flush and how
The standard practice is to flush your breeding animals for two weeks before and two to four weeks post-breeding. Some experts advise flushing for the full four weeks after breeding as most early embryonic deaths take place in the first month of pregnancy and can be attributed to poor nutrition.
Flushing works best in animals with below-average body condition scores, for mature female animals, and at the start and end of the breeding season. It can also be employed in breeding programmes that take place out of season.
Animals can be fed on pasture, hay, grains, or specially designed feeds for this purpose.
But take care if you are using pasture for flushing purposes. Some plants such as alfalfa and clovers contain compounds that mimic oestrogen and hinder ovulation and conception rates.
Grains used may be wheat, oats, barley, or corn, and should be introduced gradually. A typical amount would be half to one pound of grain for each animal per day.
The role of supplements: should you be using them?
In many circumstances, animals may not get the extra nutrition they need from their natural pasture, hay, or grain feeds. For example, good quality pasture may simply not be available.
This is where nutritional supplements and feeds come in. They play an essential role in feed flushing, representing a convenient and targeted way to offer all the extra nutrition required for this crucial stage in an animal’s life cycle.
Many are also designed to be easily digestible by animals.
At this point, it’s good to know which type of supplements you should be using. Certain essential nutrients are passed directly from mother to offspring through the placenta and colostrum. These include selenium and vitamin B12 (derived from cobalt).
While it’s hard to monitor consumption of these nutrients — from pasture intake, for example — these essential elements can be added to an animal’s diet through supplements effortlessly and in a measured way.
Try ProviCo Rural’s OrganoTrace®-P TOP-5 to capture the combined benefits of zinc, manganese, copper, cobalt, and selenium.
For dairy cows, the OrganoTrace®-P TOP-6 DAIRY nutritional feed contains zinc, manganese, copper, cobalt, selenium, and chromium to offer a wide range of nutritional benefits for breeding animals.
For a targeted selenium boost, try the OrganoTrace®-P SELENIUM feed ingredient to enhance fertility.
An essential part of livestock management
Without a doubt, feed flushing is an essential part of livestock management. Not only will it boost fertility and increase the chances of healthy offspring and multiple births, it will also increase productivity.