Which licks to use during the growing season?

01 November 2014
2 minutes

After a long dry winter, feeding our animals with high levels of supplements, we tend to sit back and breathe once the growing season arrives. The question is, is it the right approach to limit the supplementation of licks in the growing season, or should we rather focus on lick supplements so that our animals can achieve maximal growth at minimal cost during the dry season?

The answer will probably vary for each producer, but the crux of the matter is the principle of lick supplementation which is not just to supplement shortfalls, but rather to stimulate the rumen to maximize use of the available pasture. This effect of rumen stimulation is even greater on good quality grazing than with low quality roughage. Therefore it makes sense to utilize good quality grazing (at lower cost) better and therefore to get, and to keep, the animals into a better condition to preserve costs in the subsequent dry season.
Secondary to rumen stimulation is to supplement shortages, since the rumen microbial population may provide between 60 to 90% of the animals’ protein, provided it is properly managed.


The most important nutrient that should be supplemented for cattle during the growing season is phosphate. A mature lactating cow must be supplemented with at least 2,1 kg phosphate per animal per year, of which we should provide most of it in the growing season, as the animal will then show a positive growth response. The problem is that a normal P12 and salt mix will only provide 60g per kg phosphate and at an intake of 100 g per day (if this level is achieved) the animal will only be supplemented by 6 g per day. Over 150 days, this is 0,9 kg per animal during the summer. The balance must then be replenished during the dry season at a very high cost (6 g per animal per day), when it will not have a positive effect on the body condition of the animal.

The majority of the animal's phosphate needs are supplemented during the growing season when there is a greater response in terms of weight gain, while we need only supply enough phosphate necessary for metabolic processes needed during winter. The product also contains sufficient other nutrients and trace minerals to stimulate the rumen and it is also rain resistant.

For young growing animals the needs are very different. Heifers and bull calves must still grow and our goal will be to achieve a weight of 70% of mature cow weight at mating time. This can be achieved through the use of RumiLick Rainfos P9 (V24393), but it is unlikely. In young growing animals we supply RumiLick Accelerator (V24940) ad lib. We expect intakes of 1,0 to1,8 kg per animal per day and the animals also show growth rates of between 1,2 to 1,7 kg per day depending on the weight, breed and grazing supplied.

With RumiLick Accelerator it is possible to achieve weight gain in young animals of 150 to 200 kg during the growing season.

In both young and adult animals it is very important to “protect” the growth that was achieved during the summer months and not to start too late with winter- and production licks in autumn. We can very easily measure a weight gain of up to 50 kg in cows during the growing season, but we can also lose that increase if we wait too long before we start to provide additional protein licks in autumn


Sheep are not as dependent on phosphate as cattle, because their need for phosphate is much lower and they select better quality grazing, better than cows.  In a 12 month lambing system the ewes will be close to weaning by beginning of summer and a rumen stimulating maintenance lick with many trace minerals will be sufficient. For this period RumiLick Pro 15 (V24938) can be fed to the animals.
Young growing ewes and rams (just after weaning) can also be supplemented with RumiLick Accelerator at 250 to 350 g per day on good pasture. Lambs can be rounded off very cost-effectively on pastures with RumiLick Accelerator.
Ewes in an intensive system will probably be busy lambing, lactating or be in the steam-up stage before mating time, where we recommend the use of RumiLick Ewe Booster (V24947), according to the need of the animals.