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Selecting the best vitamins for cattle for optimal growth, production and health.

Important to know...

Vitamins for cattle are crucial for the growth, development, and overall health.

To ensure the well-being and productivity of cattle, it is essential to provide them with a well-balanced diet that includes the necessary cattle vitamins to meet their nutritional requirements. But what is the importance of selecting the best vitamins for cattle and what are the potential consequences of vitamin deficiencies? In this article you will learn more about our scientific insights on cattle vitamins and we will discuss the careful balance required when supplementing cattle vitamins and minerals to maximize their absorption and effectiveness.

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 1. Cattle vitamin and mineral antagonism wheel - adapted from D.L. Watts 1990

The Role of Cattle Vitamins

Cattle require a variety of vitamins to maintain their health and well-being. These vitamins play critical roles in the body, such as supporting immune function, maintaining healthy bones, and ensuring proper nutrient metabolism. Deficiencies in cattle vitamins can lead to various health problems, including poor growth, weakened immune function, and reproductive issues. For instance, vitamin E deficiency in cattle can cause an impaired immune system resulting in a higher risk of mastitis, while vitamin B deficiency can result in lower hoof strength and reduced milk production. Therefore, providing adequate amounts of vitamins for cattle is crucial for their optimal health and productivity.

Proper cattle vitamin management does not end by only providing sufficient amounts of vitamins for cattle. It is critical to take cattle vitamins and minerals interaction into account as this can affect the absorption of cattle vitamins and minerals. The interactions between cattle vitamins and minerals in the diet can be complex and supplementation should be carefully balanced to ensure that the cow receives adequate amounts of all essential cattle vitamins and minerals. Figure 1 shows the cattle vitamins and minerals antagonistic relationships130.

Vitamin E: a powerful Antioxidant

Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant that protects cattle cells and tissues from oxidative damage caused by free radicals and other stressors. A deficiency in vitamin E can lead to muscle degeneration, impaired immune function, and reproductive issues in cattle. In intensive production systems where cattle are exposed to high levels of oxidative stress, supplementation with antioxidants like vitamin E becomes essential.

However, the effectiveness of antioxidants depends on factors such as their bioavailability and solubility. To address these concerns, specially formulated alternatives to vitamin E, such as Selko AOmix, have been developed. These alternatives provide optimal digestibility and cover the complete water-to-fat-soluble range, ensuring the delivery of antioxidants to every part of the cattle's cells.

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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Vitamins Ruminal disappearance (%)
Thiamin 67.8
Riboflavin 99.3.
Niacin (as nicotinamide) 98.5
Vitamin B6 (as pyridoxine) 41.0.
Biotin 45.2
Folic acid 97.0
Vitamin B12 62.9
Vitamins Ruminal disappearance (%)
Thiamin 67.8
Riboflavin 99.3.
Niacin (as nicotinamide) 98.5
Vitamin B6 (as pyridoxine) 41.0.
Biotin 45.2
Folic acid 97.0
Vitamin B12 62.9

Table 1. Disappearance rates of B vitamins before the duodenum. Adapted from: Santschi et al. 2005

B Vitamins: Essential for Cattle Metabolism and Milk Production

B vitamins are essential for various metabolic processes in cattle, including energy metabolism, protein synthesis, and nerve function. Deficiencies in B vitamins can result in poor appetite, weight loss, reduced milk production, and nervous system disorders in cattle. While it was previously believed that rumen manufacture of B vitamins was sufficient for cattle's daily requirements, recent studies suggest that supplemental B vitamins can have positive impacts on performance and reproduction.

Modern diets containing high levels of rapidly fermentable carbohydrates and increasing milk yields have raised metabolic demands, making rumen supply of B vitamins inadequate (See table 1).

To address this, Selko developed Selko Vivalto®, providing a balanced blend of B vitamins in a fat matrix to support changing metabolic demands during early lactation and improve post-absorptive efficiency.

The Significance of Vitamin A for Cattle

Vitamin A deficiency in cattle can have severe consequences for their health and productivity. Cattle deficient in vitamin A may experience poor growth, weight loss, reduced milk production, and reproductive problems. Ocular problems, such as night blindness and corneal ulcers, are common signs of vitamin A deficiency. Furthermore, inadequate vitamin A levels can weaken the immune system, making cattle more susceptible to infections and diseases. Supplementing vitamin A in cattle diets can help prevent these health issues and support overall productivity.

Vitamin C and Vitamin D: Supporting Cattle Health

Vitamin C is essential for the immune system and the synthesis of collagen in cattle. Its deficiency can lead to reduced immune function, poor skin and coat quality, and joint problems. Vitamin D plays a critical role in calcium and phosphorus metabolism, promoting healthy bones and teeth. Cattle obtain vitamin D from sunlight exposure, green forage, and feed supplements. Dairy cows deficient in vitamin D may experience weak bones, poor milk production, and reduced fertility. Adequate supplementation of these vitamins is crucial for supporting optimal health and productivity in cattle.

Balancing vitamins and minerals for optimal bioavailability

While vitamins and minerals are both essential for cattle health, their interaction in the diet is often overlooked. Neglecting this interaction can reduce the bioavailability of these essential nutrients. Mineral sulfates, commonly used in cattle feed formulations, can act as pro-oxidants and negatively impact the value of fat sources and fat-soluble vitamins. Using hydroxy trace minerals, such as those found in dairy mineral supplements like Selko, can bypass these negative effects in the rumen. This ensures the availability of biologically active trace metals and vitamins in the intestinal tract for absorption, without affecting the availability of other essential nutrients in the diet.

To summarize, selecting the best vitamins for cattle is crucial for their optimal growth, production, and health. Adequate supplementation of vitamins like E, B, A, C, and D can prevent deficiencies and associated health issues in cattle. Additionally, balancing the interaction between vitamins and minerals in the diet ensures the maximum bioavailability of these essential nutrients. By carefully managing cattle vitamins and minerals, farmers can promote the overall welfare and economic value of their cattle, contributing to a thriving cattle industry.


  1. David L. Watts (1990) Nutrient Interrelationships Minerals — Vitamins — Endocrines. Journal of Orthomolecular Medicine Vol. 5, No. 1
  2. Shaver R.D & Bal M.A (2000) Effect of dietary thiamin supplementation on milk production by dairy cows. J. Dairy Sci. 83:2335-2340.
  3. Evans E, Leclerc H & Santin E (2020). Lactational performance in dairy cows receiving a rumen-protected B-vitamin blend during lactation: Meta-analysis of 65 studies. J. Dairy Sci. 103 (Abstr.): 286.
  4. Juchem S.O, Robinson P.H & Evans E (2012). A fat based rumen protection technology post-ruminally delivers a B vitamin complex to impact performance of multiparous Holstein cows. Anim. Feed Sci. Technol. 174: 68-78.
  5. Duplessis M, Girard C.L, Santschi D.E, Laforest J.-P, Durocher & J, Pellerin D (2014). Effects of folic acid and vitamin B12 supplementation on culling rate, diseases, and reproduction in commercial dairy herds. J. Dairy Sci. 97: 2346-2354.
  6. Li H.Q, Liu Q, Wang C, Yang Z.M, Guo G, Huo W.J, Pei C.X, Zhang Y.L, Zhang S.L, Wang H, Liu J.X & Huang Y.X (2016). Effects of dietary supplements of rumen-protected folic acid on lactation performance, energy balance, blood parameters and reproductive performance in dairy cows. Anim. Feed Sci. Technol. 213: 55-63.
  7. Amat S, McKinnon J.J, Olkowski A.A, Penner G.B, Simko P, Shand J & Hendrick S (2013). Understanding the role of sulfur–thiamine interaction in the pathogenesis of sulfur-induced polioencephalomalacia in beef cattle. Res. Vet Sci. 95, 3:1081-1087.
  8. Karapinar T, Dabak M & Kizil O (2010). Thiamine status of feedlot cattle fed a high-concentrate diet. Can Vet J. 51, 11: 1251–1253.
  9. Santschi D.E., Berthiaume R., Matte J.J., Mustafa A.F., Girard C.L. (2005). Fate of supplementary B-Vitamins in the Gastrointestinal Tract of Dairy Cows. J. Dairy Sci. 88:2043-2054

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Selko Vivalto® | The importance of B Vitamin Nutrition

Download our brochure to learn more about the importance of B Vitamins in the metabolism of dairy cows. B Vitamins play a crucial role as enzyme cofactors, aiding in the efficient breakdown of carbohydrates, fats, and proteins for energy release. Recent advancements in milk yield and production efficiency indicate a potential increase in B vitamin requirements. While rumen manufacture was previously believed to meet cows' daily needs, studies suggest that supplementing B vitamins can positively impact performance and reproduction.
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