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Maximize Nutrition During Calving

Change is in the air. That was one of the themes of the meetings I attended while at the Black Hills Stock Show this past week. Change with markets, change with the administration in Washington, DC and it can seem that uncertainty is the new normal. However, we can be certain of one thing, proper nutrition and supplementation of your cattle herd is more important than is has ever been. With the cattle markets down, it can be tempting to look for places to cut costs. Nutrition should never be on that list, here’s why.

Trace Mineral Source

The dynamics of trace minerals in the gut is truly fascinating. A person could spend hours discussing all the possible interactions that occur between any given trace mineral in a supplement and antagonists in the environment. Therefore, the source (type) of trace mineral in the supplement matters; especially if the animals are already deficient, high producing or stressed. Trace minerals in the sulfate and oxide forms are generally the most familiar sources found in cattle supplements. (As a side note: copper oxide is 100% unavailable to all livestock.) However, both forms need to be bound to a transporter in the gut to be absorbed by the animal. The advantage of including chelated/organic trace minerals is two-fold;

  • no interaction with antagonists in the gut,
  • they are already bound to an amino acid/protein, or other ligand, and can be absorbed when they reach the site of absorption in the small intestine.

How does this apply to pregnant cows? Two main points;

  • Calves are born with copper stores in the liver to assist with immune function. If the dam is deficient, the calf will be deficient as well
  • Colostrum quality has been shown to be higher in cows who have been supplemented than those who haven’t, contributing to passive immunity in the calf.

Immune Function

It shouldn’t be a surprise that immune function is tied to nutrition. Copper and zinc play key roles in proper immune and vaccine responses, selenium and vitamin E are important to cell wall integrity and antioxidant function. (Click on the nutrient to read more about its immune function role.) However, as trace mineral status of the animal starts to decline, immune function is the first thing that is given up. As you can see in the graph below, by the time you see outward signs of deficiency, you’ve also lost growth and fertility performance, and ultimately money.


Gut Health

Why throw gut health in? Gut health and integrity are essential for animal performance. Bio-Mos® and Actigen® are two technologies that no cow-calf producer should be without. (Read about them here.)

Bio-Mos® 'feeds the gut' and thus plays a critical role in animal nutrition and production. Bio-Mos® supports colostrum quality, efficient nutrient transfer from cow to calf and economic returns. Actigen® promotes performance naturally. It is a cost effective, safe and traceable technology that helps cattle thrive and reach their genetic potential. Actigen® supports receiving health status in finishing beef cattle, aids nutrient utilization and economic returns.

Why does it matter?

Calving can be chaotic and stressful for everyone involved. However, keeping the cows on a good quality supplement can give that calf a fighting chance even before it hits the ground;

  • Improved gut health in the cow (better mineral absorption/transfer to calf)
  • Improved copper levels in the calf’s liver (early immune function)
  • Improved colostrum quality (better passive immunity to calf)

What it all boils down to is improving overall health of your cattle. Healthy herd = happy rancher.

CRYSTALYX® offers a wide range of supplements, mineral and protein, to fit nearly every production scenario. If you are unsure of which product works best for your cattle and your wallet, visit our website CRYSTALYX®.com or give us a call 800-727-2502.