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Farming Union welcomes emergency authorisation for cobalt in livestock feeds

By David Porter

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NFU Scotland has welcomed the announcement that an emergency authorisation for the inclusion of cobalt salts in livestock feed has been granted, recognising the risk of cobalt deficiency faced by cattle and sheep in Scotland.

Last month, NFU Scotland wrote to the Scottish Government to underline the importance of cobalt to the livestock sector, particularly highlighting the animal health and welfare implications if cobalt was not authorised for use.

Following this, the Scottish Government has granted an emergency authorisation for cobalt salts in livestock feed in Scotland which comes into force from June 30, with the emergency authorisation period commencing on July 15 and expiring in July 2026.

It is estimated that almost two-thirds of Scotland’s land is at high risk of cobalt deficiency, making cobalt supplementation particularly significant for the health of Scotland’s sheep flock.

NFU Scotland’s Livestock Policy Manager Lisa Hislop
NFU Scotland’s Livestock Policy Manager Lisa Hislop

NFU Scotland’s Livestock Policy Manager Lisa Hislop said: “Cobalt supplementation is essential to our livestock industry, in particular our sheep sector. Cobalt is a vital element for healthy animals and deficiency can result in debilitation, anaemia, emaciation and stunted growth.

"With 63 per cent of Scotland’s land at high risk of cobalt deficiency, it is estimated that 75 per cent of Scottish lambs and 40 per cent of breeding ewes are regularly given cobalt.

“The potential loss of the use of cobalt in July this year would have coincided with the peak demand for cobalt supplementation in spring born lambs grazing hill pasture.

"We welcome the prompt decision from Scottish Government to allow emergency reauthorisation of cobalt to maintain good animal health in Scotland.”

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