Minerals in autumn

1 May 2017

It’s the time of the year when cows are dried off and the attention naturally shifts towards ensuring they are in good condition for calving. Meeting their nutritional demands now will set you up for a good winter.

As we look towards wintering cows on pasture and crops and with various maintenance projects needing to be tackled - not to mention the prospect of a well-earned holiday before calving time - it can be easy to let things slip.

But SealesWinslow Science Extension Officer, Natalie Hughes says meeting your animals’ mineral needs is worth considering now. This makes a big contribution to animal health during the coming winter months and will promote a productive lactation period beyond.

“It’s important to keep an eye on actual mineral intake, because mineral levels in pasture fluctuate throughout the year, depending on climatic conditions and region,” says Natalie.

Besides, animal requirements also change throughout the season, as Natalie explains. “At this time of year the cow’s metabolism is dealing with the demands of pregnancy. She therefore needs an additional boost of minerals to grow a healthy calf and to safeguard her own immunological processes.”

Mighty Micro Minerals – Selenium and Zinc

Selenium and zinc are among the micro-minerals that form part of a cow’s nutritional requirement and are particularly important during the colder months.

Where selenium is concerned, there’s a good chance that supplementation is required, even if pasture has been supplied with selenium fertiliser. And when you consider its metabolic reach and impact, you’ll want to make sure your animals have access to adequate uptake.

“It supports the immune system which is crucial when the animal is under a great deal of stress. This happens during drying off, when the immune system is compromised,” says Natalie.

The positive outcomes associated with adequate selenium intake include disease resistance, placenta shedding post-calving, improved milk production and reproduction.

Zinc is another nutritional heavyweight. It plays a vital role in the development of the keratin plug which naturally forms at the end of the teat, creating a barrier against harmful bacteria entering the udder. While zinc supplementation is no substitute for Teat Seal®, it is nevertheless an effective natural defence against mastitis.

Aside from its role for growth, production and reproduction, there’s another aspect of zinc that heightens its seasonal importance, namely its significance for hoof strength. “Our wet and muddy winters can compromise the soundness of feet,” says Natalie. “Strong hooves are vital for reducing lameness over winter.”

Adequate supplementation pays off

Clearly, these health impacts are far too important to be left to chance. It’s therefore prudent to undertake a pasture analysis to determine the precise availability of additional minerals.

An easy and reliable form of mineral supplementation is mineral blocks or concentrated blends that readily dissolve in water and are suitable for in-line dispensers and troughs alike.

SealesWinslow’s Micromax range and mineral blocks meet these requirements and effectively fill the trace minerals gap at a time when the immune system and metabolism need the greatest support. With formulations that offset regional pastoral differences, these options effectively support your nutrient management programme and will set you up for the wet season ahead.

If you would like to discuss your options for meeting autumn and winter mineral requirements, simply contact your local Fonterra Farm Source TSR, SealesWinslow representative or visit sealeswinslow.co.nz.

Article supplied by SealesWinslow