Mineral needs in modern dairy diets

Most dairy research tends to focus on protein and energy needs, while minerals are often overlooked. Yet, when we fail to consider the role of minerals, problems can arise, including interferences or interactions with minerals in feed and water. Important trace minerals such as Zinc, and Selenium play an important role in antioxidant status, udder health and milk quality.

The tendency to over-formulate, especially when it comes to trace minerals, is rooted in the fact that the industry still widely relies on inorganic sources of these essential nutrients. Inorganic trace minerals are known to be less available, and even though we rarely see severe signs of deficiencies, marginal deficiencies due to antagonistic interactions and/or low availability of inorganic trace minerals are often reflected in poor performance. This can add up to substantial economic losses. Marginal deficiencies also tend to become more pronounced in situations that demand higher production, or when the animals are under stress.

Form defines function

Understanding the difference between organic and inorganic minerals is important. When we look closely at organic minerals such as Bioplex®, they are in the same form that we would find in grains or forages. In other words, they are similar to the minerals stored in plants.

Alltech, a leading producer of yeast and organic trace minerals has committed over the last 40 years significant research into the area of mineral production. Bioplex minerals have been developed out of this extensive research and are produced by replicating plant material in a patented manufacturing process, which chelates the minerals onto amino acids and peptides. Bioplex and Sel-Plex® trace minerals provide mineral nutrition in the forms most similar to those present naturally in food and feed ingredients. This essentially makes them more easily absorbed and more highly retained by the dairy cow.

Why not just supplement with more inorganics?

There are various issues that can arise when using inorganic minerals due to their lower availability, including associated environmental concerns. Various research studies have demonstrated that over-fortification of trace minerals can elevate antibiotic resistance in swine operations as bacteria like Salmonella develop tolerance to high levels of copper and zinc.

Inorganic minerals can have various mineral interactions, and they can serve as antagonists that can interfere with normal processes. Examples include:

  • High levels of calcium and phosphorus can reduce manganese utilization by up to 65 percent (Wedekind and Baker, 1990; Baker and Oduho, 1994).
  • Excess manganese itself impairs utilization of iron (Baker and Halpin, 1991).
  • Excess zinc has an antagonistic effect on copper and manganese (Vohra and Heil, 1969).

Total replacement technology: The research support behind Bioplex

Alltech’s Mineral Management program focuses on feeding organic trace minerals that are better absorbed, stored and utilised by the animal. Studies have shown, that when trace minerals are fed in the right forms, as in Bioplex® and Sel-Plex®, they can be fed at significantly lower levels, while still improving animal performance. We call this innovation Alltech’s Total Replacement Technology (TRT™).

There are several examples of the effect of Bioplex minerals:

  • In 1993, a study done in Missouri determined that Bioplex Zinc® led to a reduction in the number of new mastitis infections.
  • In 2007, a study done by Kinal showed that Bioplex trace minerals reduced somatic cell counts, and the same study showed that there was more milk produced in the first 60 days of lactation when using Bioplex.
  • A study done by Scaletti and Harmon in 2012 showed a reduction in E. coli levels in milk as well as an increase in milk production.

The research support behind Sel-Plex

In a study done by Silvestre and Thatcher in 2006, cows supplemented with Sel-Plex showed improvements in immune function, adaptive immunity, cervical discharge scores and pregnancy rates.

With almost 600 research trials on Bioplex and Sel-Plex 189 of which are peer-reviewed papers on Total Replacement Technology (TRT). Alltech is the only company to have successfully replaced all inorganic minerals in animal diets without negatively affecting animal performance or productivity.

The adage that “form defines function,” especially when it comes to minerals, is both important and true. Alltech continues to carry out research across the world to prove the impact of organic minerals on herd health and performance

United Feeds’ HerdCare from United Feeds is a unique organic mineral supplement, designed to optimise herd health and performance using the latest advancements in nutritional technology as mentioned above. For further information read the HerdCare leaflet, contact your local United Feeds Representative or call 02890 759000.

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