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Wed, 03 May



Feeding willow to lambs (webinar)

An Innovative Farmers webinar on using willow to fulfil the cobalt (and hence B12) requirement for growing lambs.

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Feeding willow to lambs (webinar)
Feeding willow to lambs (webinar)

Time & Location

03 May 2023, 13:00 – 14:05


About the event

Cobalt is an essential trace element for sheep used to make vitamin B12 which supports growth. However, cobalt deficiency (also known as ill thrift/pine) can be common in weaned lambs. This can cause significant production losses even at a sub clinical level due to poor growth rates.

Grass pasture rarely meets the daily requirement for lambs throughout the season and is actually lower in the dry summer months when weaned lambs should be at maximum growth rates. Therefore cobalt and/or vitamin B12 are often supplemented. However, administering boluses and drenches add cost both in terms of product and time to administer, we do not want to feed grass fed lambs and free access supplements cannot guarantee consistent intakes in all animals.

Willow leaves have been shown to have high concentrations of cobalt, there has been some research into feeding willow as a cobalt supplement and some farmers have begun to feed or are considering feeding willow to their lambs as a cobalt supplement.

We’ll hear form Jeremy Gibbs, who began feeding willow to his lambs in 2021 and continues today cutting and dropping for ewes and lambs. Jeremy trialled making willow hay for winter 2021-2022 and noticed adding this to the hay feeder kept the ewes in top gut health and produced some lovely lambs. In summer 2022 he weekly offered up ad-lib willow to the growing lambs. Some April born lambs achieving around 50kg by September. Jeremy’s other findings are the reduction in wormer.

We’ll also hear from Dr Nigel Kendall from the University of Nottingham who has undertaken significant research on this topic, and Jon Haines, Agroforestry Advisor at Soil Association, who will talk about the practicalities.

There will also be the opportunity to develop an Innovative Farmers trial (field lab) exploring the practicalities and results of feeding willow to weaned lambs and/or join a discussion network. This will be outlined within the session.

This event will be recorded, if you cannot attend but would like to see the recording, please register anyway and we shall be in touch after the event with details of the recording.

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