Minerals are an essential dietary component for farm animals and have a huge effect of livestock output. Between 5-7% of the body weight of farm animals are made up of minerals and when imbalances occur, there is a huge impact on the animal.
Mineral deficiencies occur on soils in Ireland due to
Inappropriate fertiliser and lime usage
Increased crop yields
Adverse weather conditions, wet, cold, drought, etc.
Soil compacting and water logging
These deficiencies then have unfavorable effects on animals, with issues ranging from minor health problems to deaths, depending on the severity of the deficiency. Research has proven that mineral deficiencies can cause the following related problems in dry and lactating cows.
Dead or weak calves
Slow or difficult calving
To solve the problem, BLF Nutrition Pre-Calving and Fertility Minerals are made to balance the deficiencies and excesses on Irish farms, and are manufactured to suit individual requirements. These minerals accompanied with good farming practices will balance the nutritional deficiencies on farms. To successfully do this, we provide a Grass and Silage Analysis Service, where we test your silage to first to obtain a full analysis of the sample, and then formulate and manufacture a mineral based on the results.
Essential Minerals, Vitamins and Trace Elements
There are over 20 essential minerals, vitamins or trace elements required by ruminant animals to ensure none of the above problems come to fruition. Minerals include Magnesium, Phosphorous, Sulphur, Sodium and Calcium. Important vitamins to note are Vitamin A, Vitamin D and Vitamin B's, while key trace elements include Copper, Iodine, Selenium, Zinc, Cobalt and Manganese.
The most common mineral deficiencies in Ireland are Calcium, Phosphorous, Magnesium and Sodium. In cattle the most common mineral imbalance is a lack of phosphorous, which is due to our damp climate. Phosphorous is essential for proper functioning of the rumen, allowing full utilization of feed, buffering of blood, protein metabolism and a more efficient reproductive system.
Calcium is important for bone structure and also assists in blood clotting and enzyme activation. Calcium deficiencies can cause slow growth in calves, and low milk production in lactating animals.
Magnesium acts as an aid to prevent grass tetany. Hypomagnesemic tetany is caused when levels of magnesium within the animal drop, which can lead to cattle having muscle problems, respiratory problems, collapse and in bad cases death. The issue is common where an animal has been grazing on lush grass with high nitrate levels, which are common conditions in our climate.
A correct sodium chloride level is essential for adequate water retention and use. It also lays a major role in feed and nutrient absorption. Livestock crave salt, with sodium being a nutrient in salt. A prolonged deficiency in salt can cause animals to be less content, leading to less milk production, loss of weight and poor appearance. Due to the growing demand on livestock in terms of farming outputs, sodium deficiencies are now more likely to occur. This is due to salt being secreted through milk during lactation. Another reason for lower sodium content is that animals are now being fattened at a quicker rate, which also reduces sodium levels. Over fertilized ground with high K content also leads to a grazland with depressed sodium levels.
Research conducted by BLF Nutrition Ltd over the past few decades has shown consistent low levels of Copper, Iodine, Selenium and Zinc on Irish Farms, which is problematic due to the benefits of these specific minerals. Clinical signs of copper deficiency can include;
Rough and dull hair
Loss of body weight
Iodine deficiencies can be associated with calves and calving problems. A sign of iodine deficiency is and enlarged thyroid, with the main problem associated with this deficiency being calves being stillborn with enlarged thyroid and oedema-swelling.
Problems associated with selenium deficiency can be retained placenta or afterbirth, which decrease fertility. Calves born to cows on a selenium deficient diet can be born with muscular dystrophy which can damage the musculoskeletal system and cardiac muscles and can be more susceptibility to disease. Selenium also plays a major role in the regulation of an animals metabolism.
Zinc deficiency causes chronic cracked skin, and can stop wounds from healing properly. An additional issue with a lack of zinc is that it causes hooves to become soft.
The most important vitamins in animal nutrition are Vitamin's A, D, and B. Vitamin A is available in most green plants, and should animals be fed poor quality roughage deficiencies occur. Problems associated with lack of vitamin A are decreased appetite, impaired vision and an increased likelihood of still births in pregnant animals. Vitamin D is mostly obtained from the sun, and due to the climate in this country this is generally found to be lacking in our animals. It is important in the sense that it is necessary for the absorption of calcium and phosphorous, two essential minerals. the range of B Vitamin's are important for immune functionality, and when an imbalance occurs here it makes animals susceptible to disease, ringworm, diarrhea etc. Some Extreme Vitamin B deficiencies are considered metabolic diseases.
Ensuring that the rumen is stable in farm animals has become an essential practice among farmers when looking to maximize efficiency and profitability. An unbalanced or unstable rumen leads to poor regurgitation, poor use of feed, and poor mineral absorption, which can in turn lead to poor health and performance. BLF Nutrition have developed pH Neutraliser in a bid to overcome this problem in a cost effective manor. Ruminant pH Neutraliser is an essential dietary supplement for animals to regulate metabolism and assist in nutrients absorption. The patented formula for Ruminant pH Neutraliser contains yea-sacc, ruminant stabilisers, and a range of other premium ingredients to enhance digestibility and improve overall animal health.
Recent research conducted at James Cook University in Queensland has found that by introducing Seaweed into a cow's diet can reduce methane emissions by up to 99%. The quantity of seaweed needed to achieve these results is relatively small at only 2% of an animals diet, and this organic seaweed can be added to the diet through BLF Nutrition Minerals. As methane levels rise in the rumen, the rumen becomes more unstable and less efficient, thus stopping animals from getting the best use of feed. An additional benefit of organic seaweed is the organic forms of minerals found within the product. Organic forms of iodine and copper are easier to break down by the animal, thus increasing animal performance and health leading to a positive effect on livestock products such as meat and milk.
Organic Trace Elements
In conjunction with using all essential trace elements needed in our minerals, we also used protected trace elements in the form of Bioplex Copper, Bioplex Zinc, Bioplex Manganese and Selplex, all manufactured by Alltech. This range of chelated organic trace minerals provides mineral nutrition in a form as close to nature as possible, and are better able to support the modern needs of rapidly growing livestock or high milk production lactating animals. These organic minerals are easier absorbed and utilized by animals, as proved by the "Global Animal Feed Organic Trace Minerals Industry Market Research 2017", and ensure maximum success of our products, contrasting well with all of the other premium minerals, vitamins and trace elements in BLF Nutrition Supplements.