Trace minerals such as Zinc, Copper, Selenium and Manganese are important for optimal immune function and reproduction in cattle. Stressed animals have decreased appetite, resulting in less feed intake which means reduced trace mineral intake. Typical stressful times for cattle are around calving in cows and breeding in cows/heifers/bulls or during handling of calves and yearlings at branding, weaning, transporting and feedlot receiving time. Inadequate trace mineral supplementation and large variations in oral mineral intake may also negatively impact the trace mineral status. Antagonists such as sulfur, molybdenum, iron and calcium in feed and water may impair absorption and/or bio-availability of orally consumed trace minerals. The trace mineral requirements of cattle are not static and change during their production cycle and also during these times of stress. When the trace mineral status of cattle declines, immunity, enzyme functions, growth and fertility are compromised.
Disease costs money! The immune system needs trace minerals to work but oral trace mineral intake is variable and stressed and sick animals do not eat. By injecting trace minerals, you bypass the rumen and antagonists in it, such as sulfur/iron and molybdenum.
Vaccination is a great tool used to prevent severe disease. Once cattle are vaccinated, the cattle actually have to do ALL the work in processing the vaccine and building the different protection components. Trace minerals are critical for developing an effective immune response.
During pregnancy, the cow/heifer supplements the calf (fetus) often to her own detriment. A well supplemented cow/heifer results in a well supplemented calf after birth. Cows/heifers are very susceptible to trace mineral imbalances between pregnancy-check and calving as an imbalance here, negatively affects both the cow/heifer and her calf. Cows/heifers are also very vulnerable to trace mineral imbalances in the period 30-60 days pre-breeding which can negatively impact conception. Trace minerals are critical for ovulation and embryo quality and – survival due to their functions as anti-oxidants and for hormone production.
Trace minerals are critical in developing bulls at weaning and 60 days before the Breeding Soundness Exam and in adult bulls 45-60 days before the start of breeding season to ensure semen quality and –quantity pre-breeding.