The impact of trace minerals on calf performance during backgrounding

“Healthy cattle are also more inclined to have an increased rate of gain and better profit margin.”

Backgrounding managers often face several challenges with incoming calves. Calves that have been co-mingled are exposed to pathogens and have typically endured transportation stress, all of which can predispose them to morbidity and lower performance. These calves have also been consuming diets that may have sub-optimal trace mineral levels.

For optimal performance, growing cattle require well balanced dietary nutrients, including essential trace minerals.

Zinc, manganese and copper are easily recognized as having an important role in the beef cow-calf system. However, interestingly, adequate cobalt levels should also be considered, as cobalt is essential for Vitamin B12 synthesis and increased fibre digestion. This provides for improved forage utilisation and feed efficiency.

Healthy cattle are also more inclined to have an increased rate of gain and better profit margin. A compromised immune system means that the exposed cattle will be more prone to disease challenges. The immune
system is the first to be compromised if there is a sub-optimal trace mineral status, followed by growth, reproduction and more. With healthier cattle, the treatment costs are lower and the growth potential is at its best.

Further, foot health is a factor directly affecting the potential for growth in calves.

Zinc, copper and manganese are required trace minerals for strong hoof integrity. If calves have a sub-optimal trace mineral status during the backgrounding phase, lameness in the feedlot may become a concern.

A study was conducted at the University of Arkansas, where the objective was to evaluate the effect of zinc, manganese, copper and cobalt from Availa®4 on growth, morbidity and vaccination response of newly arrived calves during a 42-day backgrounding period, compared to the same trace mineral levels from standard inorganic sources. During this period, calves fed zinc, manganese, copper and cobalt from Availa®4 had a 0,11kg higher average daily gain (ADG) and gained approximately 4,6kg more weight than calves fed standard inorganic mineral sources. There was a trend for fewer second antibiotic treatments in calves fed Availa®4.

Previous studies with Zinpro Performance Minerals® (Availa® 4) have illustrated that trace mineral programmes are critical for decreasing the negative impact of stress on mineral retention, vaccine response, treatment response, immunity, foot health and growth. Balancing a backgrounding nutrition programme with Zinpro Performance Minerals® allows for a greater profit potential.

Talk to your nutritionist or feed sales representative about the inclusion of Zinpro Performance Minerals® in your beef cattle mineral supplements.

Chemuniqué empowers feed and food producers with the most innovative animal performance solutions, enabling our clients to consistently advance the efficiency of production.

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