For many people, taking vitamins has been part of their daily routine since childhood. Just as they were important for your development and upbringing, they are important for your herd too. When asked about the importance of cattle supplements, Chris Cassady, PhD, Technical Sales Field Manager at BioZyme gave his best piece of advice based on his own operation – he said: “You’ve got to have a goal and match your genetics to your environment, but don’t cut corners on your nutritional regimen or supplementation. Doing so will cost you in the long run.” As we continue on into the winter months, Dr. Cassady confirmed that winter is especially not the time to cut corners on nutrition. When temperatures drop in the winter, their requirements for maintenance are going to go up biologically. Cold weather can clearly stress cattle; that’s where supplementation becomes even more important.
Minerals and vitamins account for a very small proportion of daily intake in beef cattle diets and can sometimes be overlooked in a herd nutritional program. Although minerals and vitamins are needed as a very small percentage of dietary nutrients, they are very important in beef cattle nutritional programs for proper animal function, such as bone development, immune function, muscle contractions, and nervous system function. Cattle growth and reproductive performance can be compromised if a good mineral program is not in place.
The nutritional requirements of cattle changes pretty drastically during different stages of production, whether they’re in lactation, pre-calving or breeding season. If you are at a time where your animal has a biological ‘extra requirement’ for some nutrient – whether that be protein, energy, mineral or vitamin – and they don’t receive it via supplementation, there can be negative impacts. For example, health, reproductive efficiency and/or performance can suffer as a result. All of those factors combined are going to affect your bottom line. There are links to zinc and reproductive efficiency and to copper and immune health, to name a few.
A good mineral and vitamin supplementation program costs approximately $15 to $25 per head per year. With annual cost of production per cow generally being several hundred dollars, the cost of a high-quality mineral and vitamin supplement program is a relatively small investment.
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