Most producers are well aware of the need to provide supplemental nutrients to their livestock. Methods of determining requirements and assessment of most practical supplementation methods have been commonly addressed in the wide variety of publications available to the cattleman. Unfortunately, truly new concepts are few and far between. In many cases the ones that do appear are not proven or the research is not always sound.
Over the last few years a new method of providing supplemental nutrients, specifically certain trace elements, has emerged. Although the concept itself is not new, the product and results are showing new promise in an area where complications abound. Injectable trace minerals (ITM's), are making dramatic headway in this arena and are showing positive responses in numerous species including beef and dairy cattle, horses as well as sheep and goats. Research in swine and poultry are still forthcoming. In cattle, a variety of studies are showing improvements, most notably in the areas of reproduction and immune response. At the forefront of these developments is MultiMin USA, Porterville, CA, one of the pioneers in development of an effective, injectable trace mineral. The primary product, MultiMin Cattle (70 mg), provides critical levels of zinc, copper, manganese and selenium in a chelated (organic) form to provide immediately available sources of these nutrients at optimum levels at the tissue level to meet the requirements of the animal. Work by the national Research Council (NRC) has shown that the ratios of mineral concentrations in the solution is critical to effectiveness. Thus the product has been formulated to very exacting concentrations of each trace element with consideration to the appropriate ratio to the other trace elements in the solution.
An important factor that influences the effectiveness of this product is that the use of an ITM allows for by-pass of typical absorption mechanisms in the gastro-intestinal tract. By injecting the product the trace elements are delivered directly to the tissues. Researchers and producers alike have struggled for years with the fact that the variety of trace mineral sources (oxides, sulfates, organics) are absorbed at different levels and efficiencies by the gastro intestinal tract. For these elements, this absorption takes place primarily in the duodenum or upper section of the small intestine. Additionally, the presence of an assortment of antagonists will also negatively effect how well a given mineral is absorbed. For instance, it is well documented that copper is poorly absorbed in situations where the cow is on a diet that is also high in sulfur or molybdenum. The development of organic or chelated mineral sources that can be fed have shown improvement in absorption capacities but even these measures may fall short during periods of depressed intake. Research has not shown absorption of chelated mineral products to be predictable and while they are also an improvement over the inorganic materials they still suffer from similar challenges.
This problem can be additionally compounded when an animal that is in this situation also has a critical need due to production levels, stress, environment, etc. This could also include a newly weaned calf, a freshly received stocker steer or heifer or a cow that recently calved and that must attempt to rebreed in a timely fashion.
For example, in situations such as receiving stressed cattle, this can be a significant problem since:
1) They may have been off feed and water for several days.
2) High urinary and fecal output can reduce body stores of certain minerals.
3) Stress also causes changes in concentrations of various critical minerals.
4) Most of the effected minerals are required in a host of enzymatic systems required by a healthy animal, including the immune system.
5) In many cases cattle are co-mingled and can expose animals to a variety of pathogens for which they have little or no immunity.
6) In these situations cattle have a distinct need for replacement of these critical trace elements within a time frame not feasible by conventional intake routes.
7) ITM's can provide for a more immediate replacement of lost trace minerals coupled with generous provision of the same minerals in the feed.
Recent studies in both beef and dairy cattle have shown very positive responses from the use of ITM's. A study conducted by Oklahoma State University in 2000 by Berry et al, reported that use of MultiMin Cattle on two loads of newly received bull calves (140 head total) resulted in fewer sick pulls and less treatments per animal pulled (equating to lower medicine costs). The ITM treated cattle also exhibited overall improved gains and feed efficiency. Additional research is currently being conducted on the efficacy of the product in receiving cattle situations. Preliminary results are very promising.
Carstens and co-workers conducted beef cow trials at Texas A&M evaluating the effect MultiMin Cattle has on mineral status in the animal and effects on reproductive activity. Treated cows received a single 5 ml subcutaneous injection of the ITM along with injections of Vitamin E 30 days prior to calving. Treated cows showed a significant increase in Copper concentrations in the liver as far as 161 days after treatment. Blood Selenium levels were also increased numerically. Numerical improvements were also noted in conception rates and days to rebreeding after calving. These results indicate a positive effect on tissue trace mineral concentrations and reproductive activity. If ITM's can be used to reduce day from calving to rebreeding, thus decreasing the production cycle for these cows the implications are significant. If a producer can get an average decrease in time to rebreeding this means his calves, on the average will be born a certain number of days earlier. For discussion sake, let's use 10 days. If he carries these calves to a common weaning date this will mean these calves will be 10 days older than without use of this strategy. If we assume an average gain on these calves of 2.0 lbs per head per day these calves will be 20 lbs. heavier at weaning. On today's market, that is about a $20.00 added value per head. Given the cost of a single dose at $2.00 this is a 10:1 return on investment. Based on this analysis, a producer would only need to see an average improvement in days to rebreeding of 1 day to break even. This analysis does not even begin to address potential benefits to animal health, reduced medicine costs, etc.
On the dairy side of the industry, studies were conducted in California and Wisconsin using MultiMin Cattle in high producing, well-managed dairy herds. In the CA herd, 615 head (1/2 of the herd) was given two 5 ml injections of MultiMin Cattle over the course of a year. Treated cows were observed to have 22% less mastitis (infection of the mammary gland) in the first 30 days after calving. Additionally, treated cows showed a significant improvement in conception rates and a reduction in days open by 20 days. The WI study showed a similar result with reductions in days open and improvements in overall conception rates. Both studies indicate a positive influence on immune response and on reproductive activity. Economic analysis shows that for every percentage point in improved breeding this means an increased return to the dairyman of about $22.00 per head.
Additional research is currently underway in other dairy and beef (cow/calf, receiving, feedlot) applications. Results are expected in the very near future
An important fact to understand is that ITM's are not designed as a replacement of a well-designed mineral and vitamin supplementation program. Injectable trace minerals are to be used as a complement to an existing program. Cattle should be placed continuously on a balanced mineral program, one hopefully based on a recent forage or feed analysis. The ITM should be used as a compliment or bridge at critical production points in the animal's life and when questionable absorption of fed trace minerals could be a problem. Critical production periods can include at calving, weaning, shipping/receiving, rebreeding or any other time of particular production, environmental or management stress.
As noted the research is very promising and additional research and application results are accumulating. Available research supports the companies recommended applications which include:
Young calves immunity and growth
Weaning immunity and growth
Preconditioning/backgrounding immunity, gains and feed conversions
Receiving - immunity
Breeding - reproduction
Calving calf health and reproduction
Potential use by the purebred breeder in cattle in Artificial Insemination or Embryo Transfer programs could prove significant. While data is not available at this point concerning the effects ITM's could have on yield of viable embryos, improvement in conception and reductions in days from calving to rebreeding can have significant financial benefits. In these instances, insuring that trace mineral status is optimal in these cattle is important to breeding efficiency and productivity. Additionally, evidence is available which shows improvement in bull performance (semen quality) when ITM's are used strategically
As mentioned, the leader in this technology is MultiMin USA. The MultiMin Cattle (70 mg) product is a Federal Legend product and as such its use will require a prescription from your veterinarian. Many vets are already carrying the product in their stock or it can be obtained from a number of distributors around the country. For more information on MultiMin Cattle (70 mg), product use and availability contact MultiMin USA at 1-866-269-6467 or visit their website at www.multiminglobal.com.
Trace mineral nutrition is an integral part to the health and performance of all classes of cattle. ITM's are rapidly gaining acceptance as an important part of a sound mineral and vitamin program.
Dr. Steve Blezinger is a nutrition and management consultant with an office in Sulphur Springs, TX. He can be reached at 667 R 4711 Sulphur Springs 75492, by phone at (903) 885-7992 or by e-mail at email@example.com