In an increasingly difficult farming environment, maximising profitability has never been more important. Minerals, vitamins and trace elements play a very important role in animal nutrition and animal production, if there are deficiencies then production and profitability will suffer.
Dairy cows, sucklers, suckler calves, dairy replacements, heifers, growing cattle, beef cattle, store cattle, calves, weanlings, sheep, ewes, lambs, milking sheep and goats all have a requirement for minerals, vitamins and trace elements. The animals will not perform as well as they should and extreme deficiencies in minerals, vitamins and trace elements the consequences are severe. Breeding and reproduction, milk production, growth rates in growing cattle can be greatly affected by even a relatively small deficits and in extreme cases death may occur.
While various forage products such as grass, hay, silage, maize silage, wholecrop silage, brassicas, kale, fodder beet, stubble turnips, forage rape, can provide some of the animals requirements but not always enough to prevent problems. Supplementing diets with products such as trace element boluses have a far larger more consistent effect.
The three most important trace elements for livestock are calcium, magnesium and phosphorous which are essential for a healthy life. These major minerals are required in relatively large quantities. Shortages will cause metabolic disorders in cattle, sheep and goats.
In particular calcium for dairy cows is very important, particularly at calving. A deficiency will lead to hypocalcaemia or milk fever. The economic consequences of milk fever, both clinical and sub clinical are well documented. Cows with low calcium levels, with either clinical or sub clinical milk fever perform less well than cows with good calcium levels. A cow with milk fever, clinical or sub clinical is more likely to suffer from whites, metritis, displacements (LDAs) and be more difficult to get back in calf. Supplementation with a bolus such as Neolaits’ Bolutech Flash containing slow and quick release calcium, magnesium, vitamin A and vitamin D3, and niacin can reduce the risk by bridging the gap between need and supply. Improvements in calcium levels leads to less economic loss, improved production and reproduction and more profit. A herd with 100 cows can lose £20000 per annum.
Phosphorus deficiency can also be seen at calving. The cow that is down at calving does not respond completely to calcium. She cannot quite raise her back legs. This is probably a phosphorous deficiency. This can be corrected with Neolait Bolutech Activ, a phosphorous bolus.
Magnesium deficiency, grass tetany, grass staggers, can lead quickly to death. Magnesium supplementation with Neolait Bolutech Reflex can prevent this problem. Grass staggers is mostly seen in the Spring and Autumn when cows are at grass. High levels of potassium, potash from fertiliser, in the grass can lead to grass tetany by interfering with magnesium uptake. High quality, highly digestible young leafy grass silage can also be short of magnesium. Magnesium also has an important role in calcium mobilisation at calving.
Trace elements, copper, cobalt, iodine, selenium, manganese and zinc all play an important part in animal nutrition and all impact on production and profitability.
Additional trace elements to meet animal needs can be provided using the appropriate Neolait Bolutech Bolus.
Copper deficiency in cattle can be seen when coat colour reddens or in extremis the eyes appear as spectacles. Sheep generally are sensitive to copper and will die if there is excess in the diet. Shortages can be seen in lambs suffering from swayback.
Cobalt is needed to ensure good fibre digestion and energy metabolism. When in short supply lambs and cattle do no grow. This deficiency is known as pine.
Iodine is seen in calves born with hair loss or they are still born.
Selenium is necessary for good muscle development in new born calves and lambs.
Zinc is important for healthy feet and skin
Vitamins also play an important role in animal nutrition particularly vitamin A, vitamin E, vitamin D3 and the vitamin B complex.
Vitamin A fed at the right levels plays an important part in production and reproduction. Feeding vitamin A above NRC (2001) levels has not shown a health benefit. Higher levels in the dry period and first six weeks of the lactation can improve yield. Excessive feeding in the dry period may conversely suppress yield. Vitamin A is needed for embryo survival and regular cycles.
Vitamin D3 plays an important role at calving helping the cow to produce calcium to prevent milk fever, hypocalcaemia. Vitamin D is supplied by exposure to the sun. Housed cattle may need more supplementation.
Vitamin E plays a major role in helping to maintain health reducing the number of retained cleansings and metritis.
High levels of vitamin C are used in Bolutech Vitality 1.40. This is a bolus to reduce somatic cell counts in milk.
Biotin can improve milk yield and have a positive effect on foot health. Neolait Bolutech Heel is a biotin bolus that lasts 6 months.
Niacin can help improve fat mobilisation through the liver converting the fat to glucose in the blood. This may reduce the incidence of fatty liver disease and ketosis and improve the energy status of the cow. Neolait Bolutech Start bolus contains niacin and is used in early lactation cows to reduce the incidence of fatty livers/ketosis.
The Neolait Bolutech range of boluses covers many needs.
Bolutech Excell slowly releases minerals, vitamins and trace elements over a period of 8 months, 250 days. Excell improves liveweight gain, plus 12% and fertility, up to 30%. Excell is high in levels of copper, cobalt, iodine, selenium, zinc, manganese, vitamins A, E and D.
Bolutech Ovixcell for sheep contains no copper. It is used for improving lambing. Ovixcell is high in levels of cobalt, iodine, selenium, zinc, manganese, vitamins A, E and D. Ovixcell improves colostrum quality, lamb vigour and vitality thereby reducing lamb mortality.
Bolutech Refresh is used specifically for improving conception rates. It contains all the necessary vitamins and minerals and in particular high levels of beta carotene.
Bolutech Ovifresh does the same for sheep. It improves lambing percentage. It is particularly useful for early lambers and where sponges are used.
Improve dry cow management, particularly at grass, with Bolutech Tonic. Bolutech Tonic is a slow release bolus exclusively for dry cows. It lasts for 42 days. Tonic improves colostrum quality, calf vitality and cow and calf health. It contains high levels of iodine, selenium and vitamin E.