Montana State University
Survey of select trace mineral status in ram lambs and production implications for ram development


In the cattle industry trace mineral deficiencies can cost the cattle industry in upwards of millions of dollars

each year. Literature and some economic surveys would make the case that these deficiencies could be worse

in the sheep industry because of the higher requirements per unit of body weight. There is a void in

information between trace minerals and developing sheep. Research has shown that trace mineral

supplementation in deficient animals can positively affect the production status of that animal. We

hypothesize that these deficiencies exist based off related literature on soil and bovine trace mineral surveys.

These current deficiencies are hindering development in rams being developed for breeding. Trace mineral

deficiencies in developing rams are undefined, however a representative sampling of rams throughout a large

geographic area can identify problem areas to be remedied. We will collect data on a variety of trace minerals,

which include cobalt, copper, iron, manganese, molybdenum, selenium, and zinc. By collecting this

information we will have a base of knowledge in which we may be able to help producers make informed

decisions on their mineral supplementation programs in addition to guiding future ram and ewe lamb

development studies. Understanding and fixing mineral deficiencies in our flocks would increase feed

efficiency, body structure, and longevity of the animals increasing profits in sheep operations.