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Minerals & Vitamins

Minerals & Vitamins

Minerals are often the poor relation with regard to feeding of livestock and don't always get the attention they deserve. Yet they are something that affects all farmers and stock. The overall health status of the herd is of paramount importance for the economic production of all meat and milk. This health is affected to a greater or lesser degree by the mineral and vitamin status of the animal. Here are a few questions for you to consider:-

  • Does your present diet supply adequate vitamins and minerals for the modern high yielding dairy cow?
  • Do you include additional minerals in blends fed to dairy cows?
  • What are adequate vitamin and mineral levels?
  • Does your present mineral meet the cow's requirements?
  • Do you know the effects minerals and vitamins can have on fertility, mastitis and lameness?
  • What are the levels of minerals in your forage and what antagonistic (locking-up) effects may these have?

Over the last few years it has become more important to feed adequate minerals and vitamins because:-

  • The increase in the use of blends means the minerals and vitamins in concentrates cannot deliver the cows requirement.
  • A wider range of home-grown feeds being used which could be short of minerals or have a detrimental effect (e.g. selenium and copper).
  • A dramatic decline in cow fertility.
  • Increasing evidence of the role of minerals and vitamins in animal health.

The above points show why many current diets maybe incorrectly balanced for minerals and vitamins. Does this matter? Well if you look at the chart below you can see the strong links between minerals, vitamins and the major dairy cow disorders. Remember these can be caused by deficiencies, excessive amounts, imbalances and interactions between minerals.

Mineral Infertility Mastitis Lameness Others
Calcium Milk Fever.
Retained cleansing.
Lower DMI.
Milk Fever.   Dispaced abomasums.
Lower milk yields.
Phosphorus Milk Fever.
Retained cleansing.
    Lower milk yields.
Lower DMI.
Sodium Milk Fever. Udder oedema especially heifers. Rumen function.
Lower milk yields.
Potassium Milk Fever.     Lower DMI.
Magnesium Milk Fever.     Grass staggers.
Lower DMI.
Copper Retained cleansing.
Immune system. Bone formation. Nervous system.
Zinc Reproduction.
Keratin Production.
Immune system.
Horn quality Rumen function.
Selenium Reproduction.
Retained cleansing.
Immune system. Joint laminitis. Muscular dystrophy
Vitamin A Reproduction.
Retained cleansing.
Immune system.   Growth and development.
Calf mortality.
Vitamin D     Bone disease. Linked to calcium and phosphorus.
Milk Fever.
Vitamin E Reproduction.
Retained cleansing.
Immune system. Laminitis. Linked to selenium

Feeding the correct levels of vitamins and minerals won't cure all the dairy cows' ills but no health programme can be successful if the vitamin and mineral status is not correct. GP Feeds can help check your mineral requirement by forage testing and customising minerals for individual farm requirements. We buy minerals from all the major mineral manufactures in the UK and have the most current information available to us. Services we can offer include:

  • Forage testing.
  • Soil analysis.
  • Customised minerals.
  • Inclusion of protected trace elements.
  • In-feed and Free Access minerals in whatever pack size suits your requirements.
  • Spiced / flavoured Free Access minerals to encourage correct daily intakes.
  • On farm advice available to discuss your individual needs with mineral experts.
  • Addition of yeasts, limestone, calcined magnesite, sodium bicarbonate, calcium soaps etc to give you a total feeding package and simplify your systems on farm.
  • Addition of organic selenium by Selplex...

A typical mineral supplement may only cost about 3p per cow per day, but at this price it is unlikely to meet all the requirements of the dairy cow. Our motto is Quality Products for Quality Production and whilst we do not want you to overspend we do want you to realise that you only get what you pay for.

Our minerals are well proven and will enable you to maximise the health status of your herd. Our unique Excel Dry Cow mineral fed at the correct rate will only cost 8p per cow per day (for the dry cow period this is less than £5 per cow and yet under supplementing the cow at this critical period will cost considerably more than £5 per cow in the long term!).

We have also specifically formulated two cost effective but high specification minerals for the high yielding lactating dairy cow. Please click on the products High Performance Dairy and High Performance Dairy (Protected Trace Elements) to see all the benefits.

Your current supplement specification may not actually meet all the requirements of your herd. We can improve the effectiveness of your mineral supplement and help you achieve your targets if the above information is considered.

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Feeding rates are estimates, and other factors, such as animal health and environment, can have a greater impact on how animals perform. There is no guarantee that animals will perform as expected if fed the suggested rates. Rations should be balanced to provide enough energy and protein for animals, and they should include enough forage to keep the rumen healthy. Animals also need access to fresh water at all times.