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Feeding Trace Minerals

There are many considerations when feeding minerals and trace minerals to animals.

It takes between 60 to 90 days for a supplementation program to replenish trace mineral nutrient levels in a deficient animal. The presence of binding nutrients such as sulfur and molybdenum will interfere with copper absorption. Supplementing copper oxide which is almost 100% unavailable to ruminants, should be avoided. Body condition score, weather conditions, and stage of production all impact animal requirements.

There are two different forms of minerals – inorganic and organic. Organic refers to the mineral (for example copper, manganese, or zinc) is linked to a second molecule that contains carbon. It could be a metal proteinate, an organic acid, a methyl hydroxy analog or a glycinate as the second molecule or carrier of the trace mineral. It does not mean that the product is a certified organic. All forms have their benefits and limitations.

What to use will depend on what is happening on the operation. Are there problems with fertility or reproductive efficiency? Are the offspring not growing well or have health problems related to poor immunity? When nutrition programs are not solving these issues, it is worth investigating the use of the organic forms of trace minerals.

There is literature that states organic minerals have an increased bioavailability compared to the inorganic or standard mineral. Unfortunately, the results from one experiment or series of experiments is valid within the parameters of the experiments. Changes in animal body condition score, health status, stage of production (pregnant, lactating or growth rate) environmental conditions, previous nutrition and current plane of nutrition all impact the animals’ ability to utilize the nutrients. Thus, bioavailability of the mineral is different for each situation.

There are situations where the organic minerals do improve performance, but these products can be more costly than other options. If a balanced nutrition program that contains an inorganic product is not resolving production and reproduction problems; then the organic products are an option to consider. Working with a nutritionist and veterinarian is recommended to resolve production, reproduction and health problems.

For more information on mineral supplementation, contact Barry at 403-741-6032 or


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