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How Are Bioplex Trace Minerals Different, and What Are Their Benefits for Modern-Day Beef Production?

Trace minerals are essential nutrients for animals. As such, a sup-optimal trace mineral status can potentially lead to poor growth, reproductive inefficiencies and impaired health or immune responses. The right supplementation program can have a significant impact on both animal performance and producer profitability. However, with so many different choices and brands available today, it can be somewhat daunting to choose a program that will fit with your operation.

Trace minerals can be supplemented in either an inorganic or organic form. Inorganic trace minerals (e.g., sulfates, oxides and chlorides) are generally considered less bioavailable (meaning they offer lower absorption and utilization) than organic trace mineral sources, which explains why cattle might not always perform as expected when their diets are supplemented with these inorganic salts.

Organic trace minerals are generally recognized as being more bioavailable than their inorganic counterparts. The term “organic” is often used to describe all trace minerals that are complexed, chelated or otherwise associated with organic molecules. The typical organic molecules or bonding groups used for producing organic trace minerals include amino acids, peptides, sugars and even organic acids.

However, under the wide umbrella of “organic trace minerals,” vast differences exist between different categories and brands.  These differences can be due to production processes, quality control and the type of bonding group (or organic molecule) used. These factors can have a direct impact on the overall stability of the molecule, which is important given that the more stable the molecule, the fewer interactions (or degradation) it will have with other nutrients, including vitamins. Stability can also impact how much of the product actually reaches the site of absorption, which can impact the mineral’s overall bioavailability and animal performance as well.




Bioplex, the organic trace minerals from Alltech that are used as a cornerstone and foundation of many Crystalyx products, are classified as proteinates since the metal ions are bound to amino acids and peptides, making this a true chelated and stable mineral molecule. Utilizing this technology for improved stability and performance, Bioplex trace minerals offer higher bioavailability and support mineral retention and tissue reserves. Bioplex trace minerals are readily absorbed, stored and utilized by the animal and meet the higher nutrient needs of today’s genetically advanced cattle.

Recent research out of the University of Florida has demonstrated that Bioplex and Sel-Plex, Alltech’s organic selenium yeast product, can contribute to the optimal trace mineral status needed for reproductive efficiency, immunity and growth. The researchers (Price et al., 2017) published a multi-year study on the pre- and post-natal effects of different supplementation strategies. The research was divided into two phases. Phase one evaluated pregnancy rates and weaning weights based on trace mineral supplementation by source (inorganic versus organic) on two large, adjacent cow ranches, whereas phase two looked at the impact of inorganic versus organic trace minerals on key production parameters by breed (Angus and Brangus). The inorganic trace minerals were supplied as sulfates and sodium selenite, while the organic trace minerals were supplemented as Bioplex and Sel-Plex.  


Over the course of the study, the organic trace minerals provided as Bioplex were shown to have a strong correlation with better weaning weights and pregnancy rates across breeds (Price et al., 2017). The average weaning weight was more than 20 pounds higher in the cows supplemented with organic trace minerals, and pregnancy rates increased by 2.7% (from 92.6% to 95.6%). Bioplex-supplemented heifers were also confirmed pregnant eight days earlier in year one of the study and 18 days earlier in year two of the study (Price et al., 2017). Dr. Matt Hersom, who led the research, reported that both the pregnancy rates and weaning weights — which are key drivers of profitability — were positively impacted by substituting inorganic trace minerals with organic trace minerals in the form of Bioplex.


With these results in hand, it stands to reason that switching from supplementing inorganic trace minerals to an organic trace mineral program featuring products like Bioplex and Sel-Plex might cost a little bit more up front, but if you consider the pounds of beef weaned or sold per exposed female, feeding organic trace minerals is actually a more profitable approach.

The positive results associated with supplementing organic trace minerals are not unique to these studies, and the benefits go beyond those outlined above:

  • Calves supplemented with organic trace minerals in the form of Bioplex have shown higher ADGs, reduced incidences of respiratory issues and improved carcass characteristics and meat quality.
  • Supplementing cows with organic zinc, copper and selenium can lead to several reproductive benefits, including the increased diameter of ovulatory follicles and improved in vitro maturation and embryo cleavage.
  • Supplementation with organic trace minerals like Bioplex can improve the age at calving and early lactation milk production in heifers, which could also affect their future productive lives.


The nutritional status of the dam during gestation can impact the developing fetus as well. Fetal or developmental programming refers to the idea that maternal imprinting during a critical period of fetal development can have a long-term impact on the offspring. When the diet is supplemented with organic trace minerals like Bioplex, the impact of the trace mineral status on not only calving rates and weaning weights but on the reproductive efficiency of the offspring is notable, highlighting the importance and long-term impact of trace mineral strategies on overall herd profitability — especially for future heifer development. Heifers supplemented with organic trace minerals in the form of Bioplex not only reached puberty earlier but were also confirmed pregnant eight days earlier in year one and 18 days earlier in year two, illustrating the importance of trace mineral source in relation to fertility indicators (Price et al., 2017).


In one feedlot study, organic trace minerals like Bioplex also had a positive impact on health and growth performance. Steers that were supplemented with organic trace minerals in the form of Bioplex had fewer incidences of bovine respiratory disease (BRD), higher average daily gains and higher carcass weights.


For producers who want to ensure that they are feeding the highest-quality trace minerals, Crystalyx offers many different supplement types and options to help improve performance across all phases of cattle production. With the need for beef production to be both efficient and profitable, this modern approach to mineral supplementation lends itself to a healthier end product while minimizing the impact on the environment as well.