Friday, 27 July 2018 07:55

Right trace element will boost growth

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Trace elements play a crucial role in the diets of growing heifers. Trace elements play a crucial role in the diets of growing heifers.

Trace element deficiencies can reduce growth rates in both R1 and R2 cattle, delaying time to service and extending age at calving, says Annie Williams, an Agrimin animal scientist.

“Growing heifers consistently and at a high growth rate is essential if performance targets are to be maintained,” she says. 

 “Anything that delays achieving target service weight potentially extends age at calving and can increase the proportion of barren heifers, all of which increase rearing costs.

“The skill is to achieve good growth rates, ensure growth is maintained every day of the rearing period and consistently meet the animals’ requirements for all nutrients, including the essential trace elements which are often overlooked.”

She explains that while trace elements are only required in minute amounts in the diets of growing heifers -- usually less than 20mg/kg dry matter per day -- they are essential for maintaining heath and immunity as well as maximising growth.  By getting the correct trace element balance and avoiding deficiencies, improvements will be seen in feed intake, digestibility and feed conversion leading to improved growth.

“Cobalt, selenium and iodine are the most important trace elements in growing cattle.  Both selenium and vitamin E play a key role in promoting a healthy immune system and preventing cell damage. Skeletal, cardiac and respiratory muscles are susceptible to damage and can result in significant growth checks.” 

She says trace elements have an impact on growth rates by improving efficiency of digestion.  An adequate supply of cobalt is required in the rumen to allow the micro-organisms to synthesis vitamin B12whichis important for breaking down feed, maintaining appetite and ensuring efficient live weight gain.  

Trials in 2008 clearly showed that feeding sub-optimal levels of cobalt can reduce growth rates by about 0.25kg/day when the rest of the diet is balanced.

“Iodine has a direct impact on growth rates as it is incorporated into the thyroid hormones which control metabolism, promoting efficient live weight gain. The primary cause of Iodine deficiencies is low levels in the forage.” 

Williams says it is important to ensure animals get an adequate daily supply and suggests Agrimin 24·7 Smartrace eroding boluses as an effective way to supplement cattle.  Agrimin 24·7 Smartrace Growing Cattle suits cattle from 200-400kg; 24·7 Smartrace Adult Cattle is a balanced trace element supply for older cattle over 400kg.  Both are registered as veterinary medicine products with ACVM.

The eroding technology means they provide a guaranteed intake of all the key trace elements for the full grazing season, the company says.  

Administered via a single application, the trace elements in the bolus are released by a process of erosion.  This means the bolus retains its density and stays settled at the bottom of the rumen, meaning they are 100% retained by the animal.

Research trials and onfarm studies by Agrimin globally and at Te Kauwhata show that the use of trace-element boluses boosts liveweight gain in growing animals.  

In six individual trials, bolused heifers put on more liveweight per day than unsupplemented control animals.  In many cases the control group did not achieve the daily liveweight gain necessary for target age at first service.

“Bolusing is a guaranteed way to be sure that every animal will have an adequate intake and the Smartrace boluses have features that deliver exceptional trace element supply.

“The combination of accurate daily delivery and 100% retention in the rumen means animals are getting a measured trace element supply.  This ensures the risk of deficiency is minimised allowing animals to perform to their potential.  Our trial data show a sustained improvement in liveweight where animals are bolused,” Williams says.


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