The importance of Trace Elements – YPASG Livestock Group

YPASG Livestock Group Workshop 3 featured Dr Lyndall Short discussing the importance of trace elements in sheep and how to interpret appropriate levels in blood tests. Since last meeting, Lyndall took tests from the sheep of several members and discussed the results in relation to the feed, age and condition of the sheep tested. Adequate trace element nutrition has very significant implications of growth, reproduction, immunity, lactation as well as production of fibre and meat in livestock. Copper, cobalt, selenium and occasionally iodine are of most importance in production animal systems. Take home messages included 1/selenium is perhaps not as low on YP as we are led to believe (or we are supplementing sufficiently), 2/ there are copper deficient areas close to the coastal regions of YP, 3/ Vitamin B12 supplement is essential all year round, 4/ you cannot tell which trace element is lacking in stock as clinical signs are similar, therefore blood testing is essential. Blood testing also provides a better understanding of your flock levels of trace elements are considering any treatments being used and is a valuable tool in assessing for deficiency or toxicity. Blood testing allow implementation and monitoring of future supplementation programs, improves fertility and growth aspects of flocks where deficiency is a problem and makes farming systems more profitable by improving animal health.

GRDC/ YPASG Snail Bait / Spreader Efficiency Trial

This exciting trial, funded by GRDC, took place from the 12th to the 16th of August. Four spreader types – Amazone, Kuhn, Bogballe and Vicon, along with ute spreaders were part of an intensive study in combination with snail bait varieties, Meta, Metarex, Slugga and Slugout to assess the efficiency and spread combinations. Weather conditions were also taken into account with a weather station set up in the paddock. Russell Nichol attended from Victoria to input data and create result graphs, along with GRDC reps, Adelaide University staff, SARDI scientists, spreader company representatives and YPASG staff. The testing took place entirely on Ashley Wakefield’s property with results to be written up in Ground Cover and distributed to YPASG as soon as they are available.

Snail Monitoring Projecct

Snail Management

There have been major changes since Alkaline Soils first event the “Stalking Snails Day” in 2000.

Major breakthroughs in snail management have included;

  • greater understanding of snail species and snail behaviour
  • use of summer treatments to reduce snail numbers
  • earlier baiting to control snails before egg laying, including “baiting before moisture events”
  • knowledge of bait degradation due to UV light in the Summer Autumn period
  • improved harvest and grain cleaning technologies and practices

However snails have continued to spread across SA and snails were a major problem in Southern Australia in 2010- 11.

After comparing weather patterns and snail populations  since 2000, and also studying SYP farmer Mark Bennett’s 2010 snail control practices. It became obvious there is an opportunity to improve snail control through better monitoring of February March snail movement. Mark baits snails as soon as he sees snail slime on bare soil areas, eg. around gateways.

In 2010 there was significant rainfall on February 18th & 19th , March 8th and March 19th to 21st . Significantly better snail control was achieved in areas that Mark baited within a few days of the 19th of March rain.


I am currently working with SARDI, SA Uni and YPASG to monitor snail behaviour  24 / 7 using remote time lapse cameras.


2013 Remote Sensing Project Observations

Following a hot dry summer White Italian snails were observed mating at Wild Dog Hill road Warooka on March 27 and March 30 during very light showers of rain.

Snails were active at Warooka during late March early April, moving about one metre, coming across bait with minimum moisture eg light drizzle, overnight fogs and dews. Snails moved from two to three metres during and following the April 21 rain event.

White Italian snails began egg laying at Warooka  on Sunday 21st of April during a 12 mm rainfall event and continued to lay eggs during subsequent moisture events. White Italian snail egg clusters were smaller than usual and egg laying stopped when they reached dry soil during the April 21 egg laying.

Conical snails were observed mating a fortnight later than the White Italian snails.



Pick an area with high snail numbers and monitor snail movement over the February to May period to optimise snail control. Do not assume snails are idle because you do not see them moving during  daylight hours.

Suggested techniques to try.

  1. Use two different colour pressure pack paints to mark snails in two small areas ie on summer weeds, area of stubble or fence post and regularly check if they have moved
  2. Apply a light rate of bait to a small area and use different colours to mark snails at; 0.5 & 1.5 metres from the bait and check every few days if snails are around the bait
  3. Look for snail slime on bare soil areas eg in gateways adjacent to roadsides or areas where there are higher snail numbers
  4. Squash snails to see if they are pasty or moist & ese a torch to monitor snail movement before sun rise
  5. Register for SA snail alerts. Email your; Name, Location, Mobile number or Email to your nearest Grower Group or Michael Richards Email;    Mobile; 0427 547 052
  6. Join the On Farm Facebook Group for regular updates, pics & video clips on snail behaviour & farming news
  7. Check for snail updates on the YPASG Website