In agriculture, the primary purpose of licks is to strategically supplement nutrient requirements in grazing instead of replacing the grazing itself from scratch.
HOW DOES GRAZING CHANGE IN SUMMER?
After the first spring rains, the fibres in grazing, as measured in “Neutral Detergent Fibre” (NDF), begin to decline steadily. Along with this, the lignin content also decreases, which results in NDF increasing digestibility.
Easily digestible carbohydrates, especially sugar, are also starting to increase rapidly. As a result, the energy content of grazing begins to rise steadily to reach a maximum in January. Together with this higher energy content, animals’ intake of grazing also increases during this time.
The net result of all these changes is that total energy intake increases to such an extent that it is normally sufficient during the summer to meet the energy needs of dry and pregnant animals, although lactating animals may sometimes still need energy supplementation.
Regular body condition scoring on a scale of 1 – 5 can be a useful measure to monitor the energy status of animals and thus develop a data set for future reference.
Where protein in pasture drops as low as 4% in winter, which is less than half of most animals’ need for maintenance, the protein content of pasture increases to more than 14% in summer. Coupled with increased intake, this means that natural grazing in the summer can supply most animals’ protein needs. Again, lactating animals may need supplemental protein under certain conditions.
SO WHY WOULD A LICK BE NECESSARY?
If energy and protein do need to be replenished under certain conditions during the summer (such as during lactation), Sernick Summer Lick 10 can be used. The latter is supplied to cattle at 200 – 450 grams/day, and 50 – 80 grams/day to sheep.
Unlike energy and protein, natural grazing in summer generally does not contain enough phosphorus (P) to meet the physiological needs of animals. Phosphorus is essential for energy utilisation and together with calcium is also essential for bone formation. If cattle suffer from a phosphorus deficiency, they will develop a condition called pika, and begin to consume bones in the veld which can lead to Botulism.
Natural grazing can contain as little as 0.15% phosphorus in summer and with a daily intake of 6 kg grazing per cow per day, as little as 9g phosphorus is then ingested daily. However, depending on the physiological stage, between 12 and 18g of phosphorus is needed daily by cattle.
This means that phosphorus must be replenished daily by means of a salt phosphate leak such as Sernick Soutfos 6. With a lick intake of 100g per cow per day, 6g of additional phosphorus is ingested to effectively replenish the phosphorus from their grazing.
Pregnant ewes with twins need about 3.6g phosphorus per day and if they ingest 2g phosphorus from grazing they need an additional 1.6g phosphorus per day which can be supplied by 30g Soutfos 6.
In addition to phosphorus supplementation, salt phosphate licks are also essential to supplement salt (NaCl). Salt is needed to maintain the natural water balance in animals’ internal biome. Salt demand is increased in the summer because salt is lost in the form of sweat.
Finally, Soutfos 6 also contains microminerals that are essential for production, reproduction, and increased immunity.
HOW DO I KNOW WHAT TYPE OF LICK MY ANIMALS REQUIRE?
The most suitable licks as well as the amount of lick/animal/day are determined by a large variety of factors of which the field condition and animal condition are the most important. Please contact your local Sernick Technical Advisor for specific recommendations.