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Minerals And Vitamins: Necessary For Ruminants

- Apr 27, 2018 -

Minerals and Vitamins: necessary for ruminants

Vitamins, minerals, and trace elements are dynamic nutrients that are usually added to the supplemental diet of all ruminants. However, purity and bioavailability play a key role in their effectiveness.

The supplementation of dairy, sheep and goat diets with vitamins, minerals and trace elements (in the form of a premix) is key as they have a positive effects on maintenance, growth, health and milk production. However, nutritional errors are very easily happened when it comes to using this premix in conjunction with the actual needs of the animal. This is the key to overfeeding conditions (farm economy - environmental impact) and/or underfeeding conditions (subclinical - nutritional disease). With regard to these micronutrients, purity and bioavailability play a key role. Compared to oxides, the bioavailability of various trace elements when used in the form of sulphate is higher. At the same time, the dosage of certain trace elements should always be calculated based on the stage of production and the type of product. For example, most vitamins should be administered in different levels of diet. In addition to B-complex vitamins, because they are synthesized by the rumen microbiota.


Today, research and development on the use of trace elements in animal nutrition have shifted to improving bioavailability in order to better absorb and meet the needs of animals. Photo: Marcel van Hoorn

Synergistic effects

The inorganic components are separated in the macro elements, such as calcium (Ca), phosphorus (P), magnesium (Mg), potassium (K), sodium (Na), chlorine (Cl) and sulphur (S) and trace elements such as iron (Fe), copper (Cu), zinc (Zn), manganese (Mn), cobalt (Co), selenium (Se), iodine (I) and molybdenum (Mo). In addition, there are other trace elements in nature, such as fluorine, nickel, boron, chromium, cadmium, arsenic, mercury, etc., but these are not necessary for the production of animals, and may even be toxic. There is often a synergy effects between macro and trace elements and vitamins,like vitamin D and calcium.Furthermore, calcium absorption also increases when magnesium and phosphorus are present. Another example is vitamin B12 and cobalt. The lack of cobalt can lead to the deficiency of vitamin B12. Then it may results in anorexia, rumen function, and vulnerability to microbial attack. Vitamin E and Selenium are also a team. Vitamin E can improve the immunity of livestock. In addition, it has a synergistic effect with selenium, which affects the concentration of polyunsaturated fatty acids, and then converts to saturated for absorption by the rumen (all saturated fatty acids are absorbed by the rumen).

Enhancement of the immune system

Macroscopic (g / kg dry matter) and trace (mg / kg dry matter) elements play an important role in various functions. They promote bone growth and contribute to the enzymatic function of the cell membrane (phosphorus). They also regulate basic acidic conditions (sodium, potassium, chloride and sulfur) and play a key role in the synthesis of various proteins and hormones in the body. The most important is the effect of these elements on the immune system. Many elements can be found as specific chemical bonds or are part of other complexes and are absorbed in proportion to other substances (eg Ca/Mg/P, K/(Ca + Mg), etc.). Many trace elements interact each other. An example of the latter is that the copper-content (Cu), molybdenum (Mo) and sulfur (S) interact as dry matter of total dry matter in the sheep population. This interaction can occur when molybdenum and sulfur concentrations are considered normal/moderate in animal feed. Following the cleavage of sulphur amino acids in the rumen, thiomolybdates and sulphides are produced. The thiomolybdates compounds form insoluble complexes with solid copper.

Figure 1 - Interaction between different elements.


These complexes will not dissolve further, even under ruminal acid conditions. , In turn,This may led to an increase in copper excretion among lambs in the weaning group, which eventually showed symptoms of copper deficiency, such as anemia, diarrhea, decreased growth rate, discoloration of the hair, and neurological symptoms. When clinical symptoms occur, often more nutritional imbalances within the diet are the case. At low sulfur concentrations, the bioavailability of molybdenum to copper may have little effect. On the other hand, excess copper can cause toxicity, and the sheep can die after hemolytic crisis, jaundice, yellowing mucus, anorexia, hepatic swelling, and discoloration. Therefore, supplementing copper in sheep's diet is very tricky, so cattle should never be fed to sheep.
Feeding in smaller amounts

Today, research and development on the use of trace elements in animal nutrition has shifted to improving bioavailability in order to better absorb and meet animal needs, and avoid overdosing, while feeding less and absorbable forms. Organic trace elements are trace elements that are linked to peptides or amino acids and have been shown to be long-lasting and can be maintained at different levels of acidity along the digestive tract in order to be well absorbed in the intestine. In addition to trace elements in inorganic and organic forms, recent studies have focused on the use of hydroxy trace elements. They have a single hydroxyl group (OH-) covalently attached to the metal. This is different from the others. The bond avoids undesirable interactions such as oxidation or attachment to other metal components.


The use of various premixes containing vitamins, trace elements and minerals is essential for ruminants because animals become more productive and need to perform best. In general, pasture has a poor balance of all minerals and vitamins, so it is necessary to supplement the diet with premixes. Farmers should always seek nutritional advice to ensure that the premix meets their specific farming conditions and meets all requirement among animal production stages.


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