Vitamin Nutrition — What Do Your Cattle Need?

At NCBA earlier this year we had the opportunity to discuss the critical role that vitamins play in optimizing health and performance in cattle throughout all stages of production. Since vitamins A, D, and E are considered essential nutrients, they are often required to be included in diets through a supplementation program since some feeds are inadequate in vitamin composition or the feed has been exposed to factors that compromise vitamin stability such as temperature, humidity, light, oxygen, and pH.

Vitamin A is derived from carotenoids found in plants and serve a wide range of functions to the animal by playing a key role in bone, teeth and nervous tissue development, reproduction, growth, vision, kidney function and immune function.

Vitamin D is known as the “sunshine vitamin” since vitamin D3 is synthesized in the skin from UVB light from the sun. However, there are certain times of year depending on geographical location and feeding environments (covered pens vs outdoor pastures) where blood serum 25-OH-D3 levels have reached deficient levels and could compromise the many functions that Vitamin D serves, including Ca:P homeostasis, immune function, and reproduction.

Vitamin E is essential for its antioxidant properties and serves to reduce the destruction of other vitamins and essential fatty acids during digestion and absorption. Vitamin E content in feeds is highly variable and supplementation is required when poor quality forage is fed or in diets with low selenium. Some of the clinical signs observed with vitamin E deficiency is retained placentas, poor reproduction, and reduced disease resistance.

In pre-ruminant calves and other specific situations, there are certain cases where some B vitamins may be needed in ruminant diets, including biotin for hoof health, niacin for liver function and fatty acid metabolism, thiamine for certain dietary changes, and a full b complex vitamin supplementation for milk-fed calves since they don’t have a fully functioning rumen yet.

At DSM, we believe that every single animal should receive the right level of vitamins. The reason is simple: vitamins are vital to their health, well-being, and performance. Vitamins are the foundation for balanced animal nutrition. Optimum vitamin nutrition is about feeding animals high quality vitamins in the right amounts and ratios appropriate to their life stage and growing conditions. Follow the link to download the OVN app for resources and recommendations. 

Published on

18 April 2022

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