Mineral nutrition is a small part of complete feeding of an animal. It is a critical component to the well-being and performance of animals after energy and protein requirements have been met. All dairy cattle require minerals for producing both milk and growth, but the amounts found in most feeds are normally inadequate. If a cow’s intake of minerals doesn’t match her mineral outgoings then deficiency symptoms can start to appear. The feed stuff with the most irregular mineral composition is pasture, supplementing with grain alone in most cases won’t be enough. The addition of concentrated sources of certain minerals will be needed.
Calcium is the most important mineral in the animal’s body. Calcium occurs in 98-99% of the skeleton, providing hardness and structural strength to the bones and teeth. It has many functions; aiding in muscle contraction, enzyme activation, hormone secretion and bone formation. A large part of a cows calcium reserves are used to produce milk. An average cows milk contains 0.12% Calcium. That means that each day an average dairy farmer extracts large amounts of calcium from their cows to their milk factory. The more a cow produces the more calcium a cow needs to be fed otherwise deficiencies will start to occur. General signs of calcium deficiencies are rickets (enlarged joints of long bones, soft bones and animals walking in distorted ways), reduced appetite, reduced fertility and milk fever (hypocalcaemia).
Magnesium is a critical mineral which is involved in the bodies’ biochemical processes. 60-70% is found in the skeleton the rest in soft tissue and body fluids. It is found in all cells and its concentration is 2nd highest behind potassium. Magnesium is required for growth, repair of tissues and bone development, essential for cell respiration, as well as carbohydrate, protein and fat metabolism. Benefits include aiding in increasing rumen pH and can help increase milk volume and butterfat yields, relaxes nerve impulses as well as being beneficial to meat quality. General signs of deficiency are retarded growth, hyper-irritability and ultimately grass tetany (hypomagnesaemia).
Zinc’s primary role is in enzymes but is largely involved in synthesis and metabolism of proteins. It is essential for skin, bone and hair development and critical for the development and functioning of reproductive organs and improved male fertility. Deficiency symptoms general include but not limited to skin and hair problems, hoof and horn weakness, lower immune system and impaired sexual function and reduced conception rate.
Copper is involved in the development and maintenance of the vascular system e.g. blood vessels. It is also important in oxygen metabolism, immune system and cell respiration. A copper deficiency can result in anaemia, abnormal appetite, delayed or depressed oestrus and a retained foetal membrane (RFM).
How Reid Stockfeeds Nutritionists can Solve your Cow’s Mineral Deficiancy
Now that we know a little about the macro and micro mineral requirements of a dairy cow we can understand that it is a complicated balancing act of supplying enough of the right macro and micro minerals without causing the animals to be deficient. Here at Reid Stockfeeds we have taken the hard work away from mineral supplementation by formulating our own macro-micro pellet. It has a balanced mineral profile providing a range and level of mineral performance aimed at cows with moderate to high production levels. As well as the minerals we have also included buffers to improve ruminal health and production and a blend of vitamins which help with mineral absorption.