Improving immune competence through improved nutritional adequacy may help to alleviate some of the detrimental effects of infections or diseases

In the March edition of The Dairy Mail we spoke about the organic trace mineral performance bonus and how the characteristics of an organic trace mineral help to identify whether it will be effective in getting us to the goal of a performance bonus. Although the key chemical characteristics of an effective trace mineral are important to understand the structure and properties of organic trace minerals, your purchasing decision of which organic trace mineral to use should be based conclusively on animal performance.

The question is now: What kind animal performance opportunities and results can we expect to see from organic trace minerals?

Zinc, copper, manganese and cobalt each play essential roles in skin, hoof and mammary health, reproductive processes and disease resistance (immunity). Selenium, iodine and iron are also important to overall animal performance.

Any kind of inflammation or infection (lameness, mastitis, metabolic disorders or other diseases) sets a cascade of events into motion that often lead to changes in normal ovarian function, resulting in reproductive failure.

These essential trace minerals have fundamental roles in eliciting a rapid and effective immune response to pathogens. For example, by minimising mammary infections trace minerals keep somatic cell counts low, which may help to maintain greater levels of fertility in dairy cattle.

Infectious and non-infectious stresses can also play a significant role in the development of inflammation that may put an unnecessary drain on energy reserves and the immune system. Examples would be heat stress, lameness, parasites, metabolic disorders, excess body weight loss, diseases and mastitis. Cortisol released during stress is immune-suppressive because energy needed to fight infection is spared for the flight/fright response and maintaining organ function. Stress changes the  absorption of nutrients including trace minerals, which is not in the best interest of the immune system. Research at Colorado State University demonstrated that complexed trace minerals were absorbed differently than ordinary trace minerals, both before and after a stressful event. Improving immune competence through improved nutritional adequacy may help to alleviate some of the detrimental effects of infections or diseases (e.g. mastitis) on reproductive function. A summary of 20 studies found that feeding a combination of complexed zinc, manganese, copper and cobalt (Zinpro Performance Minerals®) helped to impact several key reproductive factors, when compared to feeding inorganic trace minerals, including:

  • 4 fewer days to first service (P < 0,01)
  • 13 fewer days open (P < 0,001)
  • 0,3 fewer services per conception (P < 0,01)
  • Increasing cows pregnant at 150 days in milk by 5,6 percentage units (P = 0,02)

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