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For every cattle mineral, there is an optimum

Important to know...

*Figure 1: Trace mineral supplementation and animal performance. The physiological regulation of metal absorption shows that trace mineral nutrition is not linear.

Precision management of trace mineral supplements for dairy cattle enables farmers to provide highly productive dairy cows with an optimal supply of dairy trace mineral supplements to maintain a high level of health and productivity.

The primary goal of cow mineral supplementation is to meet the animals daily cattle mineral dietary requirements. Both the level of individual trace minerals for dairy cattle that are being formulated into the ration and their form are essential to achieving this objective. Feeding too much cattle mineral, or sub-optimal levels of essential trace minerals for cattle can have a negative impact on cow well-being and productivity (see figure 1). Given that inorganic cow mineral sources are relatively cheap, overfeeding of trace minerals for cattle is relatively common, potentially leading to longer term health and longevity issues as a result of incorrect cattle mineral management.

Selko® | sharing latest scientific insights

Did you know?
TMR spoilage can already begin at temperatures of 21°C

In a trial at Kempenshof Ruminant Research Centre involving 120 dairy cows, Selko TMR proved to be effective in improving milk production during warm weather. While maintaining dry matter intake, cows on Selko TMR showed an increase in milk yield, particularly a 1.7 kg rise in the 5th week, and significantly higher milk solids.

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Selko® | sharing latest scientific insights

Selko TMR preserves TMR quality and elevates milk yield at the same time

A study revealed Selko TMR's role in TMR preservation, maintaining feed quality and enhancing milk output. By mitigating TMR spoilage and heating, it demonstrated a 0.9 kg/h/d milk production increase, highlighting its importance in feed management during cooler seasons.

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Figure 2: Searching for higher quality Cow Mineral Sources for over a century

The cattle mineral source can have a major impact on bioavailability but also on the risk of undesired effects of cow mineral supplementation.

Twenty years of independent university research has shown that an improved source of cow mineral based on proteinates, complexes or chelates, and now hydroxy trace cattle mineral can have a positive impact on achieving an optimized level of cow productivity and health while minimizing any negative impact of cattle mineral supplementation on the environment*(see figure 2)*.

The source of trace minerals for cattle that is being utilized to meet the cow’s trace metal requirement can have a major impact on bioavailability but also on the risk of undesired effects. Hydroxy forms of trace minerals for dairy cattle are insoluble at a pH of 4 or higher. Rumen pH should be between 6 and 6.5, so hydroxy trace cattle mineral crystals are essentially insoluble within the rumen, thereby maintaining optimal rumen function. In the abomasum, where the pH is between 2 and 3, the crystals dissociate layer by layer, resulting in a gradual and sustained release of trace metal ions into the duodenum. As a result, bio-availability of hydroxy trace minerals for cattle is high, but peak concentrations in the digesta always remain low.

In contrast, sulfate salts are highly soluble at neutral pH, resulting in high peak concentrations of free metal ions in the rumen. This has a number of negative effects:

  • Cattle mineral formulations with high levels of free ions have an antimicrobial effect in the rumen, which can result in poor fiber digestion102
  • Free metal ions in dairy mineral supplements can bind with antagonists to form insoluble complexes, resulting in lost nutritional value and poor bioavailability

By feeding the correct source and level of cow mineral, one can avoid a negative impact dairy cow mineral supplements on:

  • Stability of essential nutrients contained within the feed
  • Rumen function, cow physiology, reproduction, and longevity because of:
    • Maintaining an optimized level of fibre digestibility in the rumen is essential to achieving increased dry mater intake, maximum forage efficiency and rumen health
    • Improved utilization of essential ration ingredients by the cow. Get more out of your rations, by minimizing the tie up of essential nutrients with highly reactive, free metal ions that are stealing nutrient value from your rations
  • Environmental compliance

Selko® | sharing latest scientific insights

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Protect cow health and milk production with a complementary TMR pathogen screening worth €100. Early detection of contamination maintains herd performance. Contact us to claim your analysis.

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Targets for management of mineral supplements for dairy cattle

A first step to manage cow mineral supplementation is to always determine the correct level of trace metal that is required above the trace metal levels that are present in basal ration ingredients to meet the total requirement of trace minerals for cattle. Subsequently, the correct level and source of trace cattle mineral can be selected. This will ensure dairy cattle are receiving a consistent level of essential trace metals needed to support optimized well-being and productivity. When considering what source of trace mineral for cattle should be selected there are five targets.

Target 1: Maximize essential stability of many key nutrients that have been added to dairy cattle mineral supplements

Reactive trace minerals for cattle such as sulfates can have a significant negative impact on stability and bioavailability of other essential nutrients (vitamins, fats, probiotics, prebiotics, amino acids) contained within dairy cow mineral supplements. Cattle mineral sulfates are commonly referred to as pro-oxidants, which simply means they will react with other unstable molecules present within the feed. Copper and/or zinc can quickly accelerate oxidation of unprotected fat sources in the feed, negatively impacting the value of the fat as well as several fat-soluble vitamins. If the feed is being pelleted, the moisture present within the pelleting process can ionize the metals allowing them to function as antimicrobial agents against expensive probiotics that may have been added to the feed. Hydroxy trace cow mineral sources do not have any of these negative effects on the availability of essential nutrients present in the feed.

Target 2: Use the right source of cattle mineral to maintain a high level of rumen efficiency

Sulfate trace minerals for cattle are highly soluble in the rumen, resulting in high levels of reactive metals negatively impacting rumen function of dairy cows. While these characteristics may be of value when copper and or zinc sulfate are used in a foot bath, they quickly become problematic when used to deliver essential trace metals in mineral supplements for dairy cattle. Reactive sources of trace cow mineral have a negative impact on rumen microflora, significantly reducing NDF digestibility in the rumen. An independent study105 showed that replacing sulfate trace minerals in dairy mineral supplements entirely with hydroxy trace minerals eliminated this negative response, resulting in an average 3-point improvement in NDF digestibility. A recent quantitative summary102 evaluating 11 independent comparisons of cattle mineral sources found that feeding mineral supplements for dairy cattle that contain copper and zinc sulfate as a cattle mineral source had a statistically significant, negative impact on NDF digestibility in lactating dairy cattle, resulting in a 1.7-points decline of NDF digestibility. University research has shown that each one point difference in NDFd can represent 0.25 to 0.3 kgs of daily milk production103.

Target 3: Using cattle mineral supplementation to improve of gut barrier function

More recent work106 with trace minerals for cattle shows that the higher bioavailability of zinc resulting from feeding dairy cattle mineral supplements containing the hydroxy form of cow mineral has a positive effect on the immune system and gut wall tissue integrity. This improves gut barrier function, reducing the risk of “leaky gut” and systemic inflammation as a result of feeding trace minerals for dairy cattle during periods of stress.

Target 4: No loss of nutrients due to unnecessary tie up in the rumen and gastro-intestinal tract

Cattle mineral products containing highly soluble trace minerals for cattle such as sulfates can significantly reduce the amount of trace metal and other essential nutrients that are available for absorption in the intestinal tract. When sulfate trace minerals encounter moisture, they quickly break down, releasing their metal ions within the rumen. This allows the ion to form an unavailable complex with many essential nutrients such as phytates, other trace and macro minerals, oxalates, amino acids, forming new complexes that are no longer of any value to the dairy animal.

If dairy mineral supplements containing hydroxy trace minerals are being used, these hydroxy trace minerals for cattle essentially by-pass these negative effects in the rumen. This results in more biologically available trace metal arriving in the intestinal tract for absorption, while not affecting the availability of other essential nutrients in the ration.

Target 5: Cattle mineral supplementation with minimal impact on the environment

Cattle mineral supplementation should have a minimal impact on the environment. If trace minerals for dairy cattle are fed and not absorbed by the animal, the cow mineral will end up in the environment. This result is not limited to trace minerals for cattle being fed to the animal, but also affects the essential nutrients and additives the trace metal ion has bonded with, such as phosphorus, phytates, mycotoxin binders, etc. Dairy cattle mineral supplements containing hydroxy trace mineral sources can significantly reduce the amount of metal complexes that are expelled into the environment by improving the absorption of essential metals and other essential nutrients from the ration.

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You can access all of our documentation about Selko protocols, sustainable dairy farming and latest research insights.

For every trace mineral, there is an optimum

Trace mineral nutrition in dairy cattle is an essential component of any Healthy Life program given its involvement in hundreds of physiological processes involving basic maintenance, reproduction, immune competency, milk production, growth, and structural integrity. Our recommendations related to trace mineral nutrition of dairy cows are designed to ensure that your cows are receiving the correct level and source of trace minerals to drive optimized profitability and cow well-being throughout their entire lifetime.

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