Robin Casey finds it incredulous farmers are not taking up an opportunity to radically reduce bearings in ewes.

In 2008 the independent Whanganui fertiliser broker stumbled across a solution to the age-old conundrum that has dogged sheep farmers for decades.

Not sure if the results of his labour could be simply put down to "a good year", Mr Casey continued documenting his on-farm trials and four years later he was convinced he had discovered a panacea for the costly condition.

"I recall one of my clients was having facial eczema (FE) problems in 2008, so I mixed up a seaweed formula for him to drench his flock. He asked that I include zinc and at that particular time his pastures were deficient in iodine, selenium, cobalt, copper and nickel, so they were also added to the mix,'' Mr Casey said.


"He also had a major problem with bearings. From a mob of 400 grazing on his front country, 100 had bearings (vaginal prolapse). We found that not only did we reduce the rate of FE, but lamb survival was dramatically increased and bearings were substantially reduced. Tow years later only 20 or so of his ewes fell to bearings and 19 were before he drenched, vaccinated and set stocked the ewes. Since then he'd discovered only four."

Mr Casey said gone are the old wives tales many had attributed to causing bearings.

"Fat ewes fed too much grass is an old wives tale, but that just doesn't add up and neither does 'keep them skinny and you won't get bearing'."

He is sold on his blend of seaweed, selenium and iodine included with thistle control spray in April/June/July, although he has had success with applications as early as February.

"Selenium and iodine are critical at conception and birthing, so it's hardly surprising they have an effect on nearings too. I know all the experts, including vets have no hard and fast reasons for bearings and while my trials have been far from scientific, the results speak for themselves and I have at least one large sheep and beef station client extremely happy.

"We've heard of as many as 40 ewes per 1000 falling to the condition, while now we are finding under 4 per 1000. I can't believe farmers are not interested in rectifying the problem when it's as easy as spraying at thistle time," Mr Casey said.