February 6, 2023

When you were a kid, did your parents remind you (daily) to take your vitamins? Just as they were important to your upbringing, they are also important to your flock.

Chris Cassady, PhD, Technical Sales Field Manager at BioZyme, and his family have been raising Angus cattle in Illinois for approximately 35 years. They sell seed, bulls and lots of show heifers, he said. When asked about the importance of cattle supplements – and his best advice for other cattle breeders, based on his own operation – he said: “You need to have a goal and adapt your genetics to your environment, but don’t cut corners on your nutrition plan or your dietary supplement. That will cost you in the long run.”

As we move further into the winter months, Dr. Cassady that winter is especially not the time to cut corners when it comes to nutrition.

“As temperatures drop in winter, their maintenance requirements biologically increase. Cold weather can clearly stress cattle; This is where nutritional supplementation becomes even more important,” said Dr. Cassady.

  1. What is the importance of vitamins and minerals for cattle?

​​​​​​“The importance of nutritional supplements for cattle is broad and very diverse,” said Dr. Cassady. “We know that the nutritional requirements of these animals change quite drastically during the different stages of production, be it lactation, pre-calving or incubation. If you are at a time when your pet has a biological “need” for nutrients – be it protein, energy, minerals or vitamins – and they are not getting them from supplements, this can have negative effects such as: fertility or poor performance. And all of these things together will affect your bottom line. Minerals are key. There are links for zinc and reproductive efficiency. There are links to copper and immune health. There are links to zinc and immune health. I could always go on.”

There are many health concerns associated with nutrient deficiencies, says Tony Hawkins, DVM, technical service veterinarian at Valley Vet Supply.

“When an animal is too thin, it is in a state of cachexia and will degrade its own body to support its bodily functions,” warns Dr. Hawkins. “This situation weakens their immune system. Lots Trace elements are important for immune function. A deficiency in a mineral leads to a decrease in immune function. Nutrient deficiencies can also lead to weak hooves, cracks and a reduced ability to fend off problems that arise.

In terms of reproductive efficiency, I was involved in a herd work-up with severe copper deficiency. The herdsman noted reduced reproductive success and a severely compromised immune system, which manifested itself in cattle predisposed to health problems and unable to fight off minor illnesses.”

  1. How are vitamins and minerals absorbed for cattle?

“They are received in many ways,” explained Dr. Cassady. You can’t just provide a mineral in elemental form. There are organic sources and inorganic sources and therefore they all have different bioavailability. And that means if they can be utilized by that animal in the blood system or circulatory system, then they’re bioavailable. They have passed through the intestinal wall and are available to the animal. Due to rumen fermentation, some of these products are delivered and broken down by microbes, making them unavailable. But mostly the higher quality, more bioavailable ones can escape this degradation process and are resorbed in the small intestine.”

  1. Do all classes of cattle benefit from supplements?

“Whether your cattle are commercial or for show, they are still biologically similar,” shares Dr. Cassady with. “A ruminant is a ruminant, and the way science has developed these products allows us to use them for all types of breeds and purposes, whether it’s show-bound or commercial cattle. Whether you’re hauling a show heifer to Oklahoma City’s Cattlemen’s Congress or weaning a stocker calf, you’re causing a certain amount of stress. These products help cattle eat and drink again because that’s really the most important part.

When animals are stressed there are many different blood metabolites that fluctuate and one of the most common things they do when stressed is to forgo food. They don’t eat, they don’t drink. And when there isn’t a constant flow of substrate and regulation of rumen fermentation, we see some pretty major gut health challenges. This mineral balance is very important because we do not want these animals to suffer from a performance standpoint.”

Keep these thoughts in mind to help your flock.

Source: ValleyVet.com

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