Article Text

Download PDFPDF
Sheep and goats
Effect of cobalt supplementation on lamb growth rates in the face of cobalt deficiency
  1. Kim Hamer1,
  2. Hannah Mylin1,
  3. Donald Barrie2,
  4. Valentina Busin3 and
  5. Katharine Denholm1
  1. 1School of Veterinary Medicine, University of Glasgow School of Veterinary Medicine, Glasgow, UK
  2. 2Glensaugh Research Farm, The James Hutton Institute, Dundee, Dundee, UK
  3. 3Pathology and Public Health, University of Glasgow School of Life Sciences, Glasgow, UK
  1. Correspondence to Kim Hamer; kim.hamer{at}


A hill farm in eastern Scotland had noted poor lamb growth rates since 2014. Cobalt, selenium and copper deficiencies were reported from historical blood sample results, and trace element supplementation had been administered to the ewes, but not the lambs. A supplementation trial was undertaken in 2018 to compare the daily liveweight gain (DLWG) between lambs supplemented with trace elements and unsupplemented lambs. The trace element supplements used were intraruminal boluses containing 51-mg cobalt, 10-mg selenium and 60-mg iodine (Downland Essential Lamb bolus, Downland). Blood samples taken two months postsupplementation showed that unsupplemented lambs had cobalt-deficient status, but not selenium deficiency. Lambs supplemented with the trace element boluses had an increase in DLWG of 49 g/day compared with unsupplemented lambs. This case confirms that cobalt supplementation on deficient farms can be associated with a significant improvement in growth rates of growing lambs on Scottish hill farms.

  • ovine
  • trace elements
  • supplementation trials
  • lambs
  • daily live weight gain
View Full Text

Statistics from


  • Twitter @BusinValentina

  • Contributors KH: trial design, data analysis and manuscript production. HM: data collection, data cleaning and analysis. DB: trial design, data collection and manuscript adjustments. VB: trial design, data interpretation and manuscript adjustments. KD: data analysis and manuscript production.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Data availability statement The data can be found in

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.