With the increased demand for minerals in the last trimester from the growing unborn calf, along with the reduction in dry matter intake (DMI) coming up to calving, even well-fed cows can fall into poor trace mineral status post-calving.

This can make it difficult for cows to go back in calf within the crucial window of profitability. During this pre-breeding period, vaccinations add to the demand for circulating trace minerals, as they need minerals to effectively protect your cows.

Trace mineral supplementation at or ahead of these critical phases can yield very positive benefits to cattle performance. Injectable mineral supplementation at vaccination could help to improve immune response to vaccination.

Several studies have demonstrated the impact of injectable trace mineral supplementation on cattle health and performance.

Trace minerals such as Zinc (Zn), Manganese (Mn), Copper (Cu) and Selenium (Se) are essential for optimal immune function, health status and growth in cattle, particularly in highly stressed cattle or at critical phases in the breeding or production life cycle, such as pre-calving, pre breeding, weaning and vaccination.

Studies from leading animal health and veterinary universities have demonstrated the effects of strategic supplementation, and the results of these studies reinforce how supplementation could benefit cattle by enhancing the immune response to vaccines (Arthington and Havenga, 2012; Arthington et al., 2014; Palomares et al., 2016).

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When cattle are vaccinated, they need to be in an adequate trace mineral status to mount an effective immune response to derive protection from the vaccine.

Furthermore, even if cattle are in adequate trace mineral status, mounting this immune response to an initial vaccine can deplete the animal’s trace mineral stores, meaning they do not achieve effective inoculation/response from the booster or that they have a reduced immunity post vaccination.

The graphic (below) shows the reduction in circulating trace minerals in cattle following vaccination, seen in the red.

Injectable trace mineral supplementation concurrently with vaccination can help to mitigate this loss of vital trace minerals.

The blue columns in the chart show how cattle supplemented remained in better trace mineral status post-vaccination meaning they had better circulating trace mineral levels vital for mounting an immune response to a vaccine and for all other body functions.

Supplementation of trace minerals has been identified as having a positive effect on immune function. For example, Selenium deficiency is associated with reduced antibody production (Maggini et al., 2007), cattle fed Copper-deficient diets show a significant reduction in antibody producing B-cell numbers (Cerone et al., 1998) and Zinc (Zn) is essential for antibody production (Pinna et al., 2002: Tomlinson et al., 2008).

Stressors such as weaning, calving, transport and, as explained, even vaccinations themselves can exacerbate trace mineral imbalances which could lead to reduced response to vaccines.

Furthermore, cows post-calving can still be recovering from the high demands of the transition period and may not be in adequate mineral status to effectively convert vaccines.

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In a 2012 study, the effects of injectable trace mineral supplementation with concurrent vaccination use were measured.

Compared to controls animals treated with injectable trace mineral supplementation at the time of vaccination had significantly greater neutralizing antibody titres against IBR (BHV-1) on days 14, 30, and 60 post-vaccination.

Injectable Trace Mineral Supplements could be beneficial to improve vaccination response in your cows but also injectable minerals in the pre-breeding period have been linked to improved overall pregnancy and calving distribution in studies from leading US universities.

Strategic Injectable Trace Mineral Supplementation, bypasses the harsh rumen environment and antagonists, rapidly raises circulating mineral levels in cattle within 8-10hr and after 24hr mineral concentrations in the storage organs (like the liver) are at raised concentrations (Pogge et al., 2012).

Leading experts believe that in an Irish grass-based system for every additional day to a calving interval, or for every ‘day open’, the cost to the farm is at least €3/day/cow; so, for a cow that is 21 days open that is €60.

Pre-breeding supplementation helps to raise not only the trace minerals but also the essential enzyme levels in cows rapidly and effectively which could benefit cows and heifers trying to get back in calf in a tighter calving pattern.

Several studies from leading US universities have researched the potential benefits of injectable trace mineral supplementation in cows in the pre-breeding period, with improvements in overall pregnancy and improved calving distribution (Mundell et al, 2012).

Vaccination is a powerful tool to prevent infections but they require trace minerals to be effective.

Ask your vet how injectable mineral supplementation could help to enhance the immune response and fertility in your herd.

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  1. Silvia Maggini (a1), Eva S. Wintergerst (a2), Stephen Beveridge (a1) and Dietrich H. Hornig (a3) Selected vitamins and trace elements support immune function by strengthening epithelial barriers and cellular and humoral immune responses 2007 British Journal of Nutrition Vol 98, Is S1 Oct
  2. Cerone S.I., Sansinanea A.S., Streitenberger S.A., Garcia M.C., Auza N.J., 1998, The effect of copper deficiency on the peripheral blood cells of cattle
  3. Pinna K, Kelley D S, Taylor P C, King J C, 2002 Immune functions are maintained in healthy men with low zinc intake. J Nutr. 132, 2033-2036
  4. https://www.agriland.ie/farming-news/the-cost-of-disease-is-a-major-drain-on-farm-profitability-ucd-veterinary-lecturer/
  5. Tomlinson, DJ, Socha MT, DeFrain J M 2008, Role of Trace Minerals in the immune system In 2008 Penn State Dairy Cattle Nutrition Workshop, Nov 12-13 Grantville, PA pp. 39-52
  6. Arthington, J.D. & Havenga, L.J. (2012) Effect of injectable trace minerals on the humoral immune response to multivalent vaccine administration in beef calves. Journal of Animal Science. 90(6):1966-1971.
  7. Arthington, J.D., Moriel, P., Martins, P.G.M.A., Lamb, G.C. and Havenga, L.J. (2014) Effects of trace mineral injections on measures of performance and trace mineral status of pre- and postweaned beef calves. Journal of Animal Science. 92:6:2630-2640.
  8. Effects of injectable trace minerals on humoral and cell-mediated immune responses to Bovine viral diarrhea virus, Bovine herpes virus and Bovine respiratory Syncytial virus Following Administration Of A modified-live Virus Vaccine In Dairy Calves, (2016) R.A. Palomaresa,b,∗, D.J. Hurleya,b, J.H.J, Bittara, J.T. Salikic, A.R. Woolumsd, F. Molierea, L.J. Havengae, N.A. Nortonb, S.J. Cliftona, A.B. Sigmunda, C.E. Barbera, M.L. Bergera, M.J. Clarka, M.A. Frattoa
  9. https://www.agriland.ie/farming-news/the-cost-of-disease-is-a-major-drain-on-farm-profitability-ucd-veterinary-lecturer/
  10. Pogge, D. & Richter, E. Mineral concentrations of plasma and liver following injection with a trace mineral complex differ among Angus and Simmental cattle. J. Anim. Sci. 90, 2692–2698 (2012).
  11. Effects of prepartum and postpartum bolus injections of trace minerals on performance of beef cows and calves grazing native range 2012 L. R. Mundell, J. R. Jaeger, J. W. Waggoner, J. S. Stevenson, D. M. Grieger, L. A. Pacheco, J. W. Bolte, N. A. Aubel, G. J. Eckerle, M. J. Macek, S. M. Ensley, L. J. Havenga, and K. C. Olson