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Zinc and Vaccines

Vaccines are an important part of the annual ‘to do’ list of any livestock operation. However, with the ever increasing list of cattle vaccines available, the cost to vaccinate can range from $3/hd up to $9/hd, not including labor. When you consider how much of an investment vaccines are, can you take the chance that they won’t be effective?

Trace mineral deficiencies can reduce the effectiveness of vaccination programs by reducing the ability of the animal’s immune system to respond to the antigens. Deficiencies related to immune function mean lost dollars, not only from poor performance, but also from vaccines that were ineffective due to suppressed immune function. A number of trace minerals are important for optimal immune function; however, this article will focus on zinc.

Zinc plays a big role in the body; hoof and skin health, testicular development and overall performance to name a few. Drilling a little deeper, zinc is an important component of key enzymes involved in nucleic acid, protein and carbohydrate metabolism. Additionally zinc is essential for proper thymus function, a gland important for T-cell (immune system protector cells) formation. Deficiencies have a number of effects on the immune system:

  • Decreased response to antigens
  • Reduced number of immunoglobulin(antibodies produced by the body against specific pathogens) plaque-forming cells in the spleen
  • Interferes with T-cell helper function (immune system protector cell that identifies antigens and tells the body how to fight them)

Basically, zinc deficient animals have a decreased ability to respond to pathogenic challenges as the main pathways to counteract infections are impaired. A number of studies have shown the benefits of supplementing zinc (inorganic and chelated forms) to improve the response to a pathogenic challenge and to vaccines.

  • Dairy cattle supplemented chelated zinc showed an increased antibody titer levels to Foot and Mouth Disease vaccine 21 days post vaccination.
  • Zinc supplemented new born calves showed increased immunoglobulin response to antigen challenges at days 35 and 65 of supplementation.
  • Stressed feedlot steers supplemented with chelated zinc showed increased antibody titers to the BHV-1 vaccine compared to non-supplemented steers.

Now you have a tool to add more power to your vaccination program - proper trace mineral supplementation. CRYSTALYX® Brand Supplements offer a wide range of products that include complete trace mineral packages to help support optimal immune function. The Breed-Up® product line includes an elevated traceral package (200% NRC recommendations), with chelated trace minerals, to give your cows and calves an extra advantage. If supplemental protein is not needed, Crystal-Phos® and Phos-Lyx® both have elevated levels of trace minerals along with chelates. Not sure what you need? Visit our website, crystalyx.com, for more product information, contact your local CRYSTALYX® dealer or give us a call 800-727-2502.