Housing can be challenging for livestock…can you support them more at this time?

According to the All-Island Animal Disease Surveillance Report¹, respiratory infections are the most commonly diagnosed conditions on post-mortems of calves aged one to five months and weanlings aged six to 12 months; with 34% and 32% prevalence reported respectively.

Even if the cattle survive, bovine respiratory disease (BRD) is still of huge economic importance with the cost of non-fatal production losses to the EU cattle industry amounting to €576 million annually².

Along with improvements in biosecurity, vaccination has proven to be a cornerstone of preventing major pathogens from causing respiratory disease outbreaks in Irish herds.

Injectable trace mineral supplementation

Several studies have demonstrated the impact of injectable trace mineral (ITM) supplementation concurrently with vaccination, as trace minerals such as Zinc (Zn), Manganese (Mn), Copper (Cu) and Selenium (Se) are essential for optimal immune function.

Daily oral trace mineral supply is essential to meet maintenance requirements in cattle, but at high demand periods, like weaning or vaccination, intake can fall in response to stress. Consequently, clinical or sub-clinical deficiency can develop despite feeding a well formulated diet.

Trace minerals have poor intestinal absorption regardless of the source³. This poor oral absorption is further reduced by antagonists such as sulphur (S), molybdenum (Mo), calcium (Ca) and iron (Fe) or binding to undigested feed particles4.

Strategic ITM supplementation bypasses the harsh rumen environment, rapidly raising systemic trace mineral levels in cattle within eight to 10 hours and after 24 hours trace mineral concentrations in the storage organs like the liver are at raised concentrations5.

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Studies from leading universities have demonstrated the benefits of strategic trace mineral supplementation, and the results of these studies reinforce how injectable supplements could benefit cattle by enhancing immune responses to vaccinations6,7,8.

Recent research from the University of Georgia demonstrated how an injectable trace mineral supplement administered concurrently with vaccination, not only enhanced response to vaccines, but also improved vaccinated cattles’ performance following a disease challenge9.

A batch of calves was divided into three groups:

  • G1: Calves receiving ITM concurrently with vaccines;
  • G2: Calves receiving no supplement concurrently with vaccines;
  • G3: Calves that were unvaccinated and un-supplemented.

The three groups of calves were then challenged intranasally with the live BVD virus.

After being exposed to a BVD virus challenge, G1 calves had lower health scores (indicating less disease) than the other groups and calves in this group also had significantly higher counts of platelets, a vital part of the immune system.

Furthermore, in the days following the BVD virus challenge the G1 calves had improved average daily gain (Figure 1) compared to the other two groups.

Figure 1: Average daily gain in dairy calves previously treated with ITM concurrently with vaccination and subsequently challenged with BVDV. Image source: Bittar et al., 2018

Furthermore, results of a study presented at the 2019 Bovine Respiratory Disease Symposium¹⁰ demonstrated first-hand the effect of supporting a vaccine with an ITM supplement.

A batch of calves was randomly split into three groups. Two groups were vaccinated against BVD and respiratory disease whilst the third group remained unvaccinated.

Of the two vaccinated groups, one was supplemented with ITM at the time of vaccination, whilst the second group received saline. All three groups of calves were later exposed to the live BVD virus and IBR virus.

Endoscopic footage of the upper respiratory tract was performed five days after IBR exposure to assess the calves’ response to a disease challenge.

ITM calves had lower endoscopy scores (milder inflammation and mucosal damage) after the virus challenge than saline and unvaccinated groups (University of Georgia Research Foundation, Inc. Used under license. Author: Roberto A. Palomares, DVM, MS, PhD, DACT. College of Veterinary Medicine – The University of Georgia).

The use of injectable trace minerals has beneficial effects on the immune response and protection elicited by vaccination against respiratory pathogens8.

Ensure your herd is getting the most out of your vaccination protocol; ask your vet how ITM supplementation could enhance immunity in your herd.

Further Information

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  1. All Island Animal Disease Report Compressed.V.1.1 16102019 http://www.animalhealthsurveillance.agriculture.gov.ie/media/animalhealthsurveillance/content/labreports;
  2. Stipkovits, L., Rosengarten, R., and Frey, L. (1999). Mycoplasmas of ruminants: pathogenicity, diagnostics, epidemiology and molecular genetics. Edition: Volume 3, Chapter: Impact of mycoplasma infections on respiratory disease in cattle in Europe. Publisher: European Cooperation on Scientific and Technical Research, 18-32;
  3. Spears, J.W. (1996). Organic trace minerals in ruminant nutrition. Animal Feed Science Technology. 58:151–163;
  4. Spears, J.W. (2003). Trace mineral bioavailability in ruminants. Journal of Nutrition. 133:1506S–1509S;
  5. Pogge, D. and Richter, E. (2012). Mineral concentrations of plasma and liver following injection with a trace mineral complex differ among Angus and Simmental cattle. Journal of Animal Science. 90:2692–2698;
  6. Arthington, J.D. and 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 post-weaned beef calves. Journal of Animal Science. 92:6:2630-2640;
  8. Palomares, R.A., Hurley, D.J., Bittar, J.H.J., Salikic, J.T., Woolums, A.R., Moliere, F., Havenga, L.J., Norton, N.A., Clifton, S.J., Sigmund, A.B., Barber, C.E., Berger, M.L., Clark, MJ. And Fratto, M.A. (2016). 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. Veterinary Immunology and Immunopathology. 178(1):88-98;
  9. Bittar, J.H.J., Hoyos-Jaramillo, A., Hurley, D.J., Woomus, A.R., Havenga, L.J., Lourenco, J.M., Barnett, G., Gomes, V., Saliki, J.T., Harmon, D.D and Palomares, R.A. (2018) Effects of injectable trace minerals administered concurrently with a modified live virus vaccine on long-term protection against bovine viral diarrhea virus acute infection in dairy calves. Research in Veterinary Science. 119:250-258;
  10. Hoyos-Jaramillo, A., Palomares R.A., Bittar, J.H., Divers, S.J., Kirks, S.J., Urdaneta, J., Ibrahim, M., Chamorro, M.F., Edmonson, M., Rush, J., Miller, K., Rodriguez, A. and Gonzalez, E. (2019). Health status and endoscopic evaluation of the upper respiratory tract of dairy bull calves inoculated with BVDV2 and BHV1 after vaccination and trace minerals injection. Bovine Respiratory Disease Symposium 2019. Challenges and Opportunities for Reducing the Incidence of Bovine Respiratory Disease.