NSA and Woodland Trust: Flock Benefits from Trees, from Improving FEC to Minerals and Worms

This webinar was recorded as part of NSA's October 2020 Virtual Celebration of Sheep Farming. Join NSA, and an excellent panel sponsored by The Woodland Trust to hear how trees can provide benefits to your flock, from providing shelter, to minerals and worm supplements. 

Lindsay Whistance from the Organic Research Centre kicked off the session discussing the benefits of tree fodder in ruminants. She highlighted that trees play an important role in shade, shelter and interestingly they aid body maintenance behaviours (such as protection of coats and skin to external parasites) and finally encourage greater social interactions. In addition, they also help to buffer the landscape, providing protection for grass growth as well as directly for the livestock against our varying climate. She noted that sheep can be browsers, especially at times of limited grass availability, leading on to discussions on best ways to feed browse to sheep and avoiding toxicity and palatability issues.

This set the scene for Dr. Nigel Kendall from the University of Nottingham talking about flock benefits for consuming browse. Using nutritional wisdom as the process of sheep being able to actively select fodder with elements lacking from their diet, he described sheep trials that had been done conducted on site. These demonstrated the value of sheep eating browse such as willow, which increases levels of zinc and cobalt in the animal’s system; two trace elements that can’t always be accessed from pasture alone.

Finally, Sam Hollick from Bangor University described his PhD work utilising the ‘electric sheep’; basically, a model sheep which acts as a mobile thermometer that can test how the effective temperature varies around different natural shelters, allowing identification of energy savings in the field. Helen Chesshire (Woodland Trust) chaired a vibrant and dynamic Q&A session, before bringing the session to an end.

If you enjoyed this webinar and appreciate the work that NSA does, consider becoming a member so NSA can continue to support the UK sheep industry. More information and membership benefits can be found here