Toby Doak: How mineral supplementation delivers reproductive performance

How mineral supplementation delivers reproductive performance

Beef
BETTER BEEF: Strategic supplementation of minerals and vitamins can have a critical impact on the profitability of a beef operation.

BETTER BEEF: Strategic supplementation of minerals and vitamins can have a critical impact on the profitability of a beef operation.

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Strategic supplementation of minerals and vitamins can have a critical impact on the profitability of a beef operation.

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IN a beef herd, profitability is determined by several factors, including the total weight of calves sold, cost of maintaining the cow herd, percentage of cows bred that wean a calf, and the price received for calves.

The most critical time to influence these factors starts well before the calf is on the ground, in fact two months prior to calving, and followed through breeding.

A cow's nutrition during this critical stage of production also has a direct impact on her ability to rebreed in a timely manner.

Strategic supplementation of minerals and vitamins can have a critical impact on the profitability of a beef operation.

It is important to make sure feed rations are formulated to meet or exceed the nutritional requirements of the cow during early gestation, says livestock nutrition advisor Toby Doak.

It is important to make sure feed rations are formulated to meet or exceed the nutritional requirements of the cow during early gestation, says livestock nutrition advisor Toby Doak.

Supplementing the herd with key vitamins, minerals and proteins before calving and through breeding has been shown to improve a cow's body condition and conception rates and, in turn, overall calf health and survival rates.

Research shows heifer offspring from cows grazing where protein was deficient in the forage, protein supplementation to the pregnant cow in late gestation resulted in heifer offspring that were heavier at weaning, pre-breeding, first pregnancy diagnosis, and before their second breeding season, as well as had greater pregnancy rates and calving 21 days earlier than heifers from non-protein supplemented cows.

This shows there are areas where many beef producers lose productivity in the normal production settings that are never measured.

It is important to make sure feed rations are formulated to meet or exceed the nutritional requirements of the cow during early gestation (roughly the first 60 days).

While the particular vitamin/mineral pack fed during this time is very important.

Phosphorus can be referred to as the fertility mineral.

A P deficiency can severely affect reproductive performance. Insufficient amounts of phosphorus in the ration results in reduced milk production and consequently lower calf weaning weights.

Phosphorus requirements increase by 12 per cent from mid-pregnancy to the last month of gestation.

After calving, the phosphorus requirements of breeders increase by 50pc.

After calving, the phosphorus requirements of breeders increase by 50 per cent. - Toby Doak, Alltech Lienert Australia

Following phosphorus in order of importance are the organic trace minerals.

Alltech's Bioplex trace minerals are unique in that they have increased bioavailability to the animal.

It is important the breeding cow is fed a combination of Bioplex trace minerals. That will ensure the cow and the all-important rumen microbes responsible for digestion have more than sufficient access to copper, zinc, manganese and selenium to ensure proper breeding success. That's the case even in the presence of potential antagonists such as iron, sulfur and molybdenum.

The path to improved reproduction is to feed cows a mineral that improves the digestibility of the forage that the cow consumes throughout the year, take advantage of improvements in body condition throughout the summer and autumn, and improve her nutritional status through improved mineral nutrition.

Mineral supplementation may not replace all of a cow's winter supplement needs. However, it will reduce energy and protein supplementation costs and the average number of days from calving to rebreeding, while increasing the weight of calves weaned and whole-herd profitability potential.

- Toby Doak is a livestock nutrition advisor with Alltech Lienert Australia.

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