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Vitamin & Mineral Supplementation in Cattle

Vitamins and minerals are nutrients required in order to perform vital bodily functions. Examples of such functions include…

  • Muscle development
  • Reproduction
  • Lactation

…and pretty much every other function of the living body.

Requirements vary based on the age and stage of production your cattle are in. Some requirements can be met through their diet without additional supplementation, whereas others need to be provided in order to meet requirements. It is just as important to not excessively exceed requirements as it is important to meet them, as interactions among minerals can occur and thereby decrease the effectiveness.

Common minerals requiring supplementation include phosphorus, calcium, magnesium, iodine, selenium, zinc, vitamin A, and vitamin E.


Phosphorus is essential for sexual maturity and expressing heat. It is required by ruminal microbes for efficient digestion. Lameness is often observed when phosphorus is deficient.


Calcium is vital for bone development and growth, milk production, and muscle function. If cows are not provided enough dietary calcium prior to calving, a fatal condition commonly known as milk fever can occur, in which calcium requirements for lactation exceed that of calcium available in the body.

Generally, the desired calcium: phosphorus ratio is 2:1 and is important to keep balanced in ruminant diets.


Muscles require magnesium in order to contract and relax. Lush grass is often low in magnesium, which leads to a condition known as grass tetany, and is caused by a magnesium deficiency. Grass tetany causes muscle convulsions and death if not treated immediately.


Iodine aids in immunity and thyroid function. Thyroid hormones are used in the digestion, metabolization, and use of energy. Iodine requirements are usually met by feeding iodized salt, which can be found in most range minerals or easily provided through salt blocks.


Energy, proper growth and development, and reproduction are each directly impacted by selenium concentrations. Cows with selenium deficiencies are often seen with retained placentas and poor breed back. Additionally, scours and weakness are symptoms of selenium deficiencies in calves.

Selenium is quite toxic at high levels, and therefore, a maximum inclusion rate is monitored and regulated by the FDA.


Zinc is important for reproductive development and function, as well as protein synthesis. This mineral also contributes largely to hair, skin, and hoof growth/ hardiness, as well as immune function.

Vitamin A

Vitamin A is vital in eyesight and epithelial cell development, which are the cells that makeup skin and other tissues. Additionally, it aids in immunity, reproduction, and growth.

Vitamin E

Vitamin E is important for immunity, nerve function, and muscle development. In cases in which vitamin E is deficient, calves can have a stiff gate due to degrading muscles in the legs. Exact requirements in cattle are still unknown, however, when levels are found to be too low, the effects are detrimental.

How can you maximize your vitamin and mineral supplementation? 

AgriGro’s all-natural NutriZyme® is a feed and water additive that contains vitamins and minerals to boost gut health for maximum efficiency. NutriZyme® enhances the breakdown of your supplements and forages, providing even more nutrients to your herd. Contact a rep to find out even more about how AgriGro® can help your herd


Protein Supplementation Benefits Cattle

Protein is usually the costliest portion of the diet, but it can be even more costly to limit protein in the bovine diet.

Protein Supplementation

Protein supplementation can help give a boost to all classes of cattle, but those on forage-based rations will benefit the most. Additional protein helps the rumen to break down forages quicker, which will increase passage rate, and ultimately can increase intake. Ruminal microbes are powered by protein, so as supplemental protein is introduced to the rumen, more microbes are able to attach and break down fiber within the rumen. Not much supplementation is required to boost ruminal microbes, as only a few pounds per head per day can be enough.

Consequences of limiting protein

Limiting protein supplementation in situations where low-quality forages make up the majority of the ration can be detrimental. A lack of protein can lead to decreased efficiency, which spurs further issues such as low milk production and/ or loss of body condition. When cattle are grazing dormant forages or poor quality hay in the winter months, this becomes especially important.

Supplementation methods

There are many ways to provide supplemental protein. Which method works best for you depends on your management style. For producers who are able to check on their cattle every day, providing supplemental protein through a feed or grain is usually the most cost-efficient. For those with cattle spread further apart, daily check-ins can be more difficult. In cases such as this, protein tubs or liquid protein supplements can be quite effective.

Feed, protein tubs, and liquid supplements can each be moved throughout pastures to encourage grazing in often untouched areas of the pasture. Equal grazing distribution helps stretch pasture further so less hay may be needed throughout the winter and manure can more evenly be distributed throughout the pasture.

Want to further improve your forage efficiency?

AgriGro’s NutriZyme® is the answer. This all-natural water and feed additive improves efficiency by altering the gut microbiome to improve digestibility. Whether you supplement protein through feed, tubs, or liquid supplements, NutriZyme® will help you get maximum benefit for your dollar.


Grazing Corn Stalks


Winter has struck here in the U.S. and winter feeding programs are underway. With harvest behind us, many cornfields sit untouched, with cornstalk residue left behind. When fed properly, this residue can be a great feed resource. 

Corn stalks are a low-cost and resourceful way to provide fiber, roughage, and energy to cows throughout the winter. Since cows are selective grazers, they will start first by consuming any leaves or husks remaining. Additionally, cattle will gravitate towards any grain left behind, as it tastes the best. Usually, very little grain can be found in the field after harvest, but if winds were high during harvest, higher concentrations of grain could be on the ground. While this usually isn’t an issue, it is good practice to evaluate what is left behind prior to turning cows out to make sure there isn’t enough remaining to cause bloat. Next, they will move on to the less palatable and less nutritive portions- the cobs and stalks. 

Cattle can consume stalks covered in up to 6-inches of snow but are unable to break through if covered in ice. In situations such as this, cattle will need to be provided with hay to meet their nutritional demands. Additionally, stocking rates will determine how much supplementation may or may not be required.

Depending on the stage of production, the majority of energy requirements can be met through grazing corn stalks. Protein, however, is about 5.0-6.0% on average, so additional protein supplementation may be needed to meet requirements and enhance forage digestion

Feeding a feed source you’ve already invested in, such as grazing stalks, is a very cost-efficient way of providing feed. The more nutrients cattle are able to take in with what you already have, the better off your pocketbook will be. 

This concept was a key factor in the development of AgriGro’s product, NutriZyme®. NutriZyme® is a water and/or feed additive that helps boost digestion to maximize nutrient uptake. This additive positively affects ruminal microbial selection to enhance health, digestion, and subsequently performance in your animals. Place your AgriGro order today and give it a try!


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To Creep Feed Or Not To Creep Feed…

We’re into the cooler months here in the States. Calving season is starting up, which means producers are starting to think about winter feeding programs. Will you feed hay? Supplement corn? Provide protein tubs? What about the calves? Weaning season is just around the corner, which means creep feed is on the brain.

What is creep feeding?

Creep feed is a feed provided to calves prior to weaning to let calves become slowly accustomed to feed. These feeds are typically fed in self-feeders with gates small enough for the calves to fit through, but too small for cows to wiggle into.

Why creep feed?

Creep feeding calves encourages them to consume feed prior to weaning, which decreases stress during weaning, as the calves are already familiar with the new feed source. Additionally, starting calves on grain earlier in life increases both marbling and weaning weights. Vitamins and minerals can also be included in creep feeds to ensure adequate intake.

Nutritive composition

Creep feeds usually range between 13 to 15% protein and have moderate levels of energy. These levels of protein are required to aid in proper growth and development. Low starch energy sources are often used to provide energy while promoting healthy rumen development. Additionally, molasses is often used to decrease dust while providing a sweet smell and flavor, which enhances palatability.

Animal behavior and creep feed

When provided the chance, cattle are picky eaters. They will start with the most palatable option, starting with milk, then creep feed, then last to available forages. Adequate roughage intake is important in calf rumen development, so creep feeds will oftentimes have a fibrous roughage source included, such as cottonseed hulls in case calves fill up prior to consuming forages.

Weaning with AgriGro

NutriZyme® is an all-natural spray-on additive applied to feed to enhance some of the most important factors of creep feed. Some, but not all of these factors include…

  • Improved weaning weights
  • Increased appetite and intake
  • Enhanced disease resistance
  • Overall gut health. 

Get the most out of your feed with NutriZyme®.

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Prebiotics in the Poultry Industry

In poultry production, bird health is greatly influenced by the microbial communities present in the gastrointestinal tract (GIT) and the surrounding environment (i.e., bedding). The composition and diversity of these communities fluctuate tremendously throughout a growing period and must remain balanced to ensure proper nutrition, development, and disease suppression/bird immunity. Imbalances in the microbiota (a condition known as dysbiosis) can lead to the weakening of intestinal walls in the GIT, reduced nutrient digestibility, enteritis and diarrhea, and other consequences that diminish bird performance and limit a grower’s return on investment (Shang et al. 2018). Dysbiosis is a relatively common condition and can be triggered by the following factors: 

  • Nutritional imbalance
  • Poor management
  • Host genetics
  • Environmental stress
  • Increased abundance of harmful microorganisms and metabolites
  • Mycotoxins 

Dr. Edgar Oviedo, Professor of Broiler Nutrition and Management at North Carolina State University, suggests that three intersecting approaches may be used to maintain equilibrium within the gut microbiome of poultry: (i) mitigation of environmental stress; (ii) avoidance of malnutrition; and (iii) inclusion of feed additives, with a growing emphasis placed on the latter (Oviedo-Rondón). 

Non-antibiotic feed additives currently in the marketplace include…

  • Probiotics (live microbes)
  • Prebiotics (biomolecules that promote the growth of beneficial microbes)
  • Phytobiotics (plant-derived performance enhancers)
  • Nutritional supplements (enzymes, herb extracts, etc.)


Prebiotics are among the most intensively studied feed additives and have been proven repeatedly to positively impact the microbiota present in the GIT and fecal matter. For example, various oligosaccharides have been documented to increase the abundance of Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus (beneficial bacteria) in the colon of different hosts as well as suppress pathogenic bacteria (Escherichia coli and Clostridium spp.) (Shang et al. 2018; Jung et al. 2008; Xu et al. 2003; Nywang and Gibson 1993). Additionally, carbohydrate-based prebiotics enhance nutrient digestibility, modulate intestinal tissue homeostasis, and help mitigate grower/consumer exposure to pathogens (Shang et. al 2018; Yang et al. 2009). The plethora of studies generated by the scientific community collectively demonstrates that prebiotics serve as an effective tool against dysbiosis, ensuring a balanced microbiome and continual bird health throughout a growing period.

The AgriGro® Difference…

AgriGro® is a prebiotic technology leader for agricultural use, providing a line of products that promote balanced microbial activity within the bird GIT and bed layer. Third-party research and real-world employment have demonstrated that IndigoLT® and NutriZyme®, two products offered by AgriGro®, work independently and in conjunction to increase the abundance of beneficial poultry microorganisms (i.e., Bifidobacterium), mitigate pathogens (i.e., Staphylococcus spp.), decrease mortality rate, and prevent wet litter, altogether improving flock performance and minimizing the onset of dysbiosis.

For more information about IndigoLT® and NutriZyme®, click below.



Shang Y, Kumar S, Oakley B, Kim WK. Chicken gut microbiota: importance and detection technology. Front Vet Sci. (2018) 5:254.
Oviedo-Rondón, E. Dysbacteriosis, its causes and its impact. (https://www.dsm.com/content/dam/dsm/anh/en_US/documents/Dysbacteriosis,%20its%20causes%20and%20its%20impact.pdf)
Jung SJ, Houde R, Baurhoo B, Zhao X, Lee BH. Effects of galactooligosaccharides and a Bifidobacteria lactis-based probiotic strain on the growth performance and fecal microflora of broiler chickens. Poult Sci. (2008) 87:1694–9.
Xu ZR, Hu CH, Xia MS, Zhan XA, Wang MQ. Effects of dietary fructooligosaccharide on digestive enzyme activities, intestinal microflora and morphology of male broilers. Poult Sci. (2003) 82:1030–6.
Nywang X, Gibson GR. Effects of the in vitro fermentation of oligofructose and inulin by bacteria growing in the human large intestine. J Appl Bacteriol. (1993) 75:373–80.
Yang Y, Iji PA, Choct M. Dietary modulation of gut microflora in broiler chickens: a review of the role of six kinds of alternatives to in-feed antibiotics. World Poult Sci J. (2009) 65:97.