Your Choice Minerals Matter for Modern Dairy Animals

Your Choice Minerals Matter for Modern Dairy Animals

In the recent webinar “Your Choice in Minerals Matters,” Dr. Jud Heinrichs, professor of dairy science at Penn State University, and Dr. Roger Scaletti, a trace mineral and milk quality expert at Alltech,

got us back to the basics of mineral nutrition, helped us understand the differences in form and function, and brought some real-life examples into the equation.

Most animal diets include daily supplementation of trace minerals, giving the producer and nutritionist a choice in what form of mineral they choose to use.

What is the real difference between organic and inorganic minerals?

Organic minerals are the form closest to nature, containing carbon molecules. Inorganic minerals are essentially ground-up rock with no carbon molecules attached to them.

Importance of minerals

When we increase trace mineral status above the benchmark level, we are then able

to achieve optimum immune function and support the growth and fertility of the animal. Some trace minerals fed to livestock include zinc, copper, manganese and selenium. Understanding the importance of these trace minerals individually is key in understanding their real purpose in a ration:

Zinc: Skin integrity, immune function, wound healing, sexual maturity, reproductive capacity.

Copper: Bone strength, metabolism of iron, maturing process of red blood cells.

Manganese: Metabolism, brain function, required for wound healing.

Selenium: Immune function, white blood cell function, reproduction.

Form defines function

Organic trace minerals are closest to minerals found in food and feed ingredients, mimicking what Mother Nature does best. Form truly does define function and as a result can have significant impact on animal health and performance. Alltech, a supplier of organic trace minerals, has found through years of development and research that the proteinate form of a mineral is protected by the various layers of the digestive system, allowing the animal to receive the minerals and nutrients it needs to perform at its peak.

Data reveals benefits of organic trace mineral supplementation in calves

Heinrichs took a look at trace mineral availability and its importance for calves. Supplementing with organic minerals can aid in growth and immune function and can assist with disease issues common in fragile newborn calves.

The two studies included:

The Professional Animal Scientist 32: 205–213. 2016. click HERE

Journal of Dairy Science 99: 2797–2810.2016. click HERE

These studies compared organic trace minerals and inorganic trace minerals. Some key points included:

  • Calves from dams on the organic mineral program experienced plasma haptoglobin less than 50 micrograms per milliliter approximately one-and-a-half fewer weeks than calves from inorganically fed dams.
  • This data implies that feeding this organic mineral program to pregnant cows reinforces mineral status, leading to optimal overall health, immune status and reproductive function in the cow and calf.
  • Type of trace minerals affects rumen bacteria and produces responses in ruminal fermentation.
  • Organic trace minerals increased total volatile fatty acid (VFA) production and butyrate concentration.
  • Higher bioavailability of the organic trace minerals suggests a faster utilization of the trace minerals and accelerated replication of ruminal microorganisms, stimulating ruminal fermentation and VFA production.


This commentary is sponsored by Alltech, Inc. For more information on animal health and nutrition, go click HERE

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