Don't underestimate trace minerals for stock
07:27 (GMT+2), Mon, 16 May 2011
Graaff-Reinet veterinarian Dr Roland Larson does research on the effects of trace minerals and vitamins in livestock, especially small stock. Heather Dugmore spoke to him about exciting improvements in condition, productivity and treatment of diseases in livestock.
In 2007 veterinarian Dr Roland Larson got a call from sheep farmer Kayne Kingwill, from the Murraysburg district in the Karoo, for advice on his Dorpers and Merinos. “He explained that though there’d been good rain and the veld was good, his animals were losing condition,” explains Dr Larson (55) from his clinic in Graaff-Reinet, where he has practised for 26 years.
“We started investigating, first drenching the animals against serious worm infestations. After the first drench there was no improvement, so we re-drenched using a different product, and soon the animals started gaining condition and doing well. “The second drench happened to contain cobalt and selenium – and this was an eye-opener for me.”
Over the past four years Dr Larson has immersed himself in researching minerals and vitamins, their interaction with each other, and their effect on livestock metabolism and reproduction. It’s a neglected field of research that has only received attention from a few South African veterinarians over the years.
These include Dr James Kitching, now retired, who worked in the Western Province Provincial Veterinary Laboratory in Stellenbosch, and Dr Gareth Bath, formerly of Grootfontein and Onderstepoort, also now retired. As a “back to basics” man, Dr Larson is highly dubious about the indiscriminate and often excessive use of drenches, doses, chemicals and antibiotics to treat livestock diseases and condition problems.
“For me it’s trying to put an expensive plaster on a problem that starts with nutrition,” he says.
He believes that many livestock diseases can be eliminated by including the appropriate minerals and vitamins in the animals’ diet. The nutrients required will vary enormously across South Africa, from district to district, farm to farm and even from camp to camp.
Contact Dr Roland Larson of the Graaff-Reinet Veterinary Clinic on 049 892 4783 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Read more about lab results, Vitamin E and selenium, Vitamin B and cobalt, specific needs, as well as what farmers should do in the 13 May 2011 issue.
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