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Sheep, pigs and copper

mutleybones
by mutleybones
Hi,

we've just started with pigs and sheep and have read that copper sulphate added to pig feed is poisonous to sheep. Does anyone know how much of the copper makes it into the ground and how long it will stay there and / or the grazing, ie, how long after keeping pigs on a patch of land before the sheep can move in?

On a similar note, the duck feed we use also has added copper, though not as much as the pig feed (12mg / kg vs 150mg / kg). Would this lower concentration spread over a much larger area also pose a risk?

Any help gratefully received,

Steve.
last edited on
Farmerfred
#1
by Farmerfred
Normally the pigs make such a mess that by the time the ground has come back it is perfectly safe for the sheep.

We use pig muck on the ground we graze for our sheep and it doesn't have any negative impact or atleast does not seem to.
Wozza
#2
by Wozza
The feed I use tells to lie the ground fallow for 12 months before putting on sheep after pigs and never allow sheep near pig effluent
Intransigence is a state of mind
moo-neigh-cluck
#3
by moo-neigh-cluck
A lot will depend on the breed of sheep you have. Sheep do still need copper but some are more sensitive to it than others. As a general rule, white faced sheep are sensitive and black faced/black fleeced can tolerate more & actually need more although they shouldn't have access to the pig feed directly regardless.

As for how long before they can graze etc, I honestly don't know but a feed manufacturer will be able to give you good advice.

I see that you live in France. Do you know what your current copper level is in the soil? If it is already high then extra care would probably be needed. Also if other metal levels (ie iron etc) are high in the ground then the copper will be locked up to an extent.

The weather will play a part in how much will get into the grass. A dry summer with slow growing grass will take up more copper & pass it on to the sheep. A soaking summer like we've got used to over here will not only wash a good amount out of the ground but the grass will grow quicker and uptake far less trace elements including copper.

I would seek the advice of a feed manufacturer, preferably one local to you if you're not aware of the copper status in your ground or have a word with a few livestock farmers close to you who might be able to give you a 'heads up' on soil status.

A lot of cattle feeds/buckets contain up to around 3000mg/kg copper of which approx 75%+ will be passed out in the dung. This dung spread on sheep pasture doesn't seem to cause the sheep problems over here but certainly worth checking as I assume the pig pooh will be in a concentrated area.
mutleybones
#4
by mutleybones
Hi,

thanks for the reply.

The land hasn't been used for pigs before, I'm just thinking ahead. The sheep are black-faced and (lucky me) I'm collecting the pig pooh for the compost heap. So, from what you've said perhaps not the initial problem I thought, will keep searching and maybe leave the sheep out of the area for a year after the pigs have moved and mow and remove the grass cuttings.

Steve.
mutleybones
#5
by mutleybones
Hi,

I've just noticed the earlier posts, only got notification of the one from moo-neigh-cluck. Thanks everyone.

Steve.
bramblebee porkers
#6
by bramblebee porkers
our pigs graze round the pig pens and have seen them nick a bit of feed
have not had any probs that i know of but im aware i could get a problem
the sheep are moved about so are not there for long
woolandfeathers
#7
by woolandfeathers
It does depend on the breed of sheep. No sheep should have too much copper but for instance, North Ronaldsays can't have any copper in their diet as they will die and must never be kept on land where pigs have been. I also keep them well away from poultry and goose poo too as this contains copper and the chickens are free range but in a different area to where the sheep can ever get. Texels are copper sensitive as well and some other breeds so worth looking into the breed history of your sheep as copper poisoning is usually inreversible!
www.woolandfeathers.co.uk
dixie
#8
by dixie
My sheep live in a field with chickens
www.madaboutpigs.co.uk
woolandfeathers
#9
by woolandfeathers
Hi Dixie, it depends on the breed of your sheep. I have had one of my North Ronaldsays die from copper poisoning and believe me its not something you want to go through. They just can't tolerate any copper in their diet due to the fact the lived originally on North Ronaldsay on the seashore and ate seaweed so have not experienced copper in their diet and now can't tolerate it. I know Texels are copper sensitive too and there may be other breeds. I am not saying that all sheep are because I don;t know about all sheep breeds, but its worth checking a particular sheep profile before risking it!
www.woolandfeathers.co.uk
dixie
#10
by dixie
I've got mainly mules, a suffolk and a jacob, all sharing with chickens and have done for 3 years! I dont keep them on the same ground as pigs but i never knew chickens could be a problem.
www.madaboutpigs.co.uk
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