In balancing the mineral component of a cow-calf diet, multiple factors including stress, antagonisms and environmental challenges all come into play, says veterinarian Dennis Nuzback, ruminant technical manager for Novus International Inc.
Water and feed analysis, he says, can help determine not only which minerals to supplement but in what form. High sulfur content in water and high molybdenum content in forages are just two examples of antagonists that can affect the bioavailability of trace minerals, he explains.
“Annual analysis of water and forages to identify and understand the mineral antagonists that are present is a small upfront investment that can yield long-term dividends," he said. "When combined with professional nutrition insight and quality products, analysis helps contribute to cows who are nutritionally supported to make it through stressful calving and breeding cycles, drought conditions and forage changes.”
Nuzback stresses the importance of feeding an adequate amount of a bioavailable source of trace minerals to support enzyme functions in the animal, which are critical for immunity, reproduction and weight gains. Nuzback says inorganic mineral salts can be prone to physical and chemical degradation due to dietary and environmental antagonisms present in the digestive tract that impair absorption.
“You can reduce the total amount of minerals you are feeding if you replace a portion of the minerals with a more bioavailable source," Nuzback said. "Organic, chelated trace minerals are a highly bioavailable source and can be more efficiently used by the animal because they are more readily absorbed.”
This is particularly important when water or feed contain high levels of antagonistic minerals, as the bonding process for chelated minerals provides better
stability in the animal’s digestive tract.