While there are a variety of supplements available in the marketplace, when you are selecting the best supplement to match the needs of your herd, make sure it meets the following criteria:
1. Provides consistent intakes
If ewes or does aren’t consuming the mineral you put out, what good can it do? The first priority in supplementing is to provide minerals in a form that sheep or goats will consume. Contrary to what many may believe, sheep and goats are quite picky about what they will eat. Molasses is often used to improve the overall palatability of feed and/or minerals — and numerous CRYSTALYX® Brand Supplements are formulated with molasses to help mask any undesirable flavors.
The unique batch manufacturing process at CRYSTALYX allows for just the molasses to be cooked at high temperatures to remove moisture, dehydrating it in a method that is similar to making peanut brittle. Cooking off the moisture is an effective way to allow the block to harden once it cools. This process also helps control how much sheep and goats can consume as they lick this molasses-based product while also getting the added minerals, vitamins and protein that they need. Although the intake levels are controlled, the palatability of CRYSTALYX attracts animals to come back for more. This helps keep the cost per head per day down while maintaining consistent intakes.
2. Supports reproduction
The main driver of profitability in our sheep and goat herds revolves around reproduction and the number of lambs or kids weaned per female. Providing females with the right amount of nutrients will directly impact the reproductive success of the herd. Mineral deficiencies can negatively impact reproduction in various ways, including:
- Delayed estrus
- Embryonic death
- Decreased conception
- Delayed puberty
- Increased instances of dystocia
- Silent heat
- Retained placenta
- Weak lambs or kids
For rams and bucks, proper mineral and vitamin supplementation — especially of zinc, selenium and vitamin E — is critical for fertility and breeding success. In most cases, forages alone cannot supply the amounts of minerals and vitamins that animals need; therefore, supplementing the ration to achieve high performance is important
3. Formulated for feeding year-round
To be able to perform at their best and meet their genetic potential, the nutrient requirements of sheep and goats should be met year-round, through each stage of their production cycle. While nutrient deficiencies may not always manifest with obvious symptoms, long-term deficiencies will directly impact your bottom line. Ewe and doe nutrition will change throughout the year, depending on each animal’s reproductive status, and will vary during maintenance, breeding, early gestation, late gestation and lactation.
- Maintenance: This is the period after lambs or kids are weaned and before the female is rebred. This length of time may differ based on different production scenarios. For example, in an accelerated program, the ewe or doe may never be in maintenance, but in early weaning programs, the maintenance period is longer. While nutrient requirements are at their lowest at this stage and protein and energy requirements may be met with pasture and forages alone, minerals and vitamins still need to be supplemented. This is also the most ideal and efficient time to improve body condition as needed.
- Breeding: Prior to breeding, many producers will increase the amounts of protein and overall nutrients delivered to females in a process known as flushing. This will increase ovulation rates and the number of ova available to be fertilized. Providing the proper mineral nutrition is also key during this stage. The Blueprint® nutrition program has been shown to directly impact breeding success. For instance, producers who supplement with the CRYSTALYX® Blueprint® Sheep Mineral leading up to and through the breeding period have been shown to have fewer open ewes and a higher lambing percentage.
- Early gestation: Research in fetal programming tells us that even as early as the first trimester of pregnancy, maternal nutrition can have both short- and long-term consequences on the developing offspring. During this stage, ewes and does should be on a nutrition program that helps them maintain body condition and that also provides minerals and vitamins to meet the developing lambs’ and kids’ demands.
- Late gestation: The greatest amount of growth for the developing lamb or kid occurs during the last month of gestation. As a result, for the dam to meet her nutritional requirements in this stage, her demands must increase. It is also important to keep in mind that the size of the female and the number of lambs or kids she is carrying will determine the amount of supplemental nutrients she will need, in addition to good-quality forages.
- Lactation: This is the stage, following lambing or kidding, when nutritional requirements are at their highest. The amount of nutrients the female needs increases corresponding to the number of lambs or kids at her side. For example, the nutrients necessary to provide for triplets is greater than what is needed for a single-born lamb or kid. During lactation, supplementing with CRYSTALYX will benefit not only the ewe or doe but the lambs and kids as well, as they become more curious and attracted to this palatable supplement.
CRYSTALYX has the supplements that will check all three of the boxes mentioned above for you. Goat-lyx® is the product of choice formulated specifically for goats. Goat-lyx will provide supplemental protein, along with minerals and vitamins — including a partial replacement of Bioplex® organic trace minerals and Bio-Mos® 2. If feeding sheep, species-specific formulas with no added copper are available. Sheep-lyx™ also contains added protein, Bioplex and Bio-Mos 2. If protein supplementation is not necessary but you are looking for a controlled yet highly palatable mineral, look into our Blueprint Sheep Mineral. This supplement contains Blueprint technology as well as 100% Bioplex organic trace minerals and added Bio-Mos 2.
These high-performing supplements will provide the necessary nutrition for your sheep and goats. See your local CRYSTALYX dealer for more information about our sheep and goat supplement.