Dry licks and urea supplementation for sheep
Dry licks are a practical way to provide nitrogen (e.g. urea) to sheep when they are protein deficient. They stimulate the sheep's appetite which can increase their intake of pasture by 20-30%; therefore, urea supplementation is only useful when sheep have access to a good body of dry feed. The increase in pasture intake can result in increased wool growth, and reduce the rate of weight loss and death rates.
Dry licks can be used to supplement major nutrients such as nitrogen, phosphorus and sulphur. Attention is required to ensure that the sheep receive enough of the nutrient that is deficient in the diet.
Thorough mixing of the dry lick is required, preferably using a mechanical mixer. The dry lick should be available at all times, and fed in open-ended troughs, hollow logs or drums that have good drainage to allow rainfall to run off.
Most dry licks contain urea. To avoid urea toxicity or death, an introductory period is required in which only salt is fed. Providing only salt until the sheep satisfy their craving will prevent them from gorging supplements when they are first put out. Signs of urea toxicity include abdominal pain, muscle tremors, incoordination, weakness, laboured breathing and bloat. It is not recommended to feed rams urea, as it's not worth the risk of toxicity.
Dry lick recipes
Recipe 1: a cost-effective alternative to commercial prepared licks
|For sheep and cattle on mulga. Urea can be added to this lick at 1 part.|
|For lactating ewes and cows in poor condition and early weaned calves on mulga|
*Parts by weight
Recipe 2: for sheep on mulga
|Ingredients||Proportion in dry lick (parts by weight)|
|Kynofos mix||Biofos mix||DCP mix|
|Sulphate of Ammonia||1||1||1|
Adding urea and molasses to dry licks
If plenty of dry grass is available, urea can be added to dry licks to increase the nitrogen content. The table below shows the recommended percentages for adding urea and molasses to a dry lick.
Recipe 3: adding urea and molasses to lick
|Sulphate of Ammonia||20|
|Kynofos, Biofos or dicalcium phosphate||20|
Recipe 4: for lambing ewes or sheep in poor condition
For lambing ewes and sheep in very poor condition, protein meal should be added to the lick.
A suitable mix would be:
- 2 parts stock salt
- 1 part sulphate of ammonia
- 1 part Kynofos 21, Biofos or dicalcium phosphate
- up to 6 parts protein meal.
This dry lick will be more palatable, especially if vegetable protein meals are used, and consumption rates will increase.
Recipe 5: turning a dry lick into a block
|Ingredients||Order of mixing||Units of mix %|
|5% urea||10% urea||15% urea|
|Sulphate of Ammonia (Gran Am®)||6||5||5||5|
Note: this mix should be dried in the sun for 7 days.
An optimum size block is about 6-8kg.