Minerals and vitamins, while accounting for a small percentage of dietary requirements, play a very important role in animal function.
They assist in areas such as bone development, muscle contractions and good nervous system and immune function.
Subsequently, growth and fertility can be compromised if a good mineral balance is not maintained. And in a year with continuously rising input costs, avoiding having to pay for anything avoidable is important.
In terms of getting adequate minerals, dietary sources typically include forages, concentrate feedstuffs, mineral supplements and water.
Mineral requirements are typically classed as macrominerals and microminerals (trace elements).
Macromineral requirements are usually expressed as a percentage of the total diet, while micromineral requirements are generally expressed as milligrams per kilogram (mg/kg) or parts per million (ppm).
There are any number of mineral interactions which can result in minerals either tying up or making other mineral elements unavailable, causing imbalances.
Potential problems from lack of minerals
Mineral imbalances (toxicities or deficiencies) can trigger nutritional disorders in animals. Typical examples include grass tetany, urinary calculi, white muscle disease and milk fever in cattle.
While these disorders can sometimes produce dramatic signs, mineral imbalances are quite often unnoticed or overlooked because only subclinical signs are present.
Some identifiable signs of mineral, vitamin shortages or imbalances in animals, include loss of hair around the eyes and back; discolouration of the coat; ill-thrift; infertility; swelling of the joints; scour; poor conversion; and growth below their genetic potential.
Less obvious signs can result in reduced productivity or conversion rates in both cattle and sheep, ultimately resulting in increased costs to the farmer.
Farmers should consider mineral supplementation at grass as mineral deficiency is often quite prevalent in soils, and concentrate intake is often reduced or not included in the diet.
In summary, appropriate intake of minerals and vitamins is essential for productivity and health.
In selecting a mineral and vitamin supplement, consider the class of animal; age; weight; breeding status; forage conditions; mineral and vitamin levels in feedstuff; and water sources.
Univet recommends blood sampling to determine status within the herd. For more information, please consult your veterinary surgeon.
The Growvite range
The Growvite range of nutritional supplements provides a balanced formula of chelated minerals, vitamins and trace elements essential for optimum thrive and performance.
The range, which is molasses based, includes Growvite Forte, Growvite Calf, Growvite Sheep, Growvite Lamb, Multi Birth and CowAid.
All Growvite products are manufactured in a good manufacturing compliance (GMP) compliant facility, thus ensuring consistent high-quality as standard. GMP is a European Pharmaceutical Quality Manufacturing Standard.
The products have been proven on Irish farms for over thirty years.
Trials carried out in the University of Wales showed Growvite Sheep to increase the number of live lambs born by 22%. Similar results are demonstrated in cattle.
Full trial results are available on request through Univet.
More information on the Growvite Range and Univet can be found by clicking here.