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.

Phosphorous 

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 

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.  

Magnesium

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

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. 

Selenium

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

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