Trace Mineral Nutrition

Animal Health Nutrition


There is much written about trace minerals in human and animal nutrition.  It can be a confusing topic – I will try to simplify the issue. 

Calcium, phosphorus, magnesium and potassium are considered macrominerals.  They are required in comparatively larger quantities.  Recommended levels of these are well established. 

As the name implies, trace minerals need only be present in small amounts.  They are used as part of enzymes, which serve the vital function of being catalysts to chemical reactions that run the metabolic processes of the body.    

The immune system operates at maximum efficiency in the presence of adequate Selenium, (Se), Copper (Cu) and Zinc (Zn).  The reproductive system relies heavily on Manganese (Mn) and Se.  Production of red blood cells require Cu, Zn, Mn and Cobalt (Co).  The list goes on. 

Trace minerals are normally delivered to the body through the diet.  In some situations, they can also be delivered by injection.  Availability of trace minerals is influenced by their chemical form and interactions with other minerals. 

One of the forms trace minerals come in are called inorganic, meaning being in a chemical state.  Often these are mined or synthetically produced.  These would be listed as oxides, carbonates, or sulfates.  As a rule, these are cheaper and have poorer bioavailability

Another form of trace minerals is chelated trace minerals.  Chelation attaches the mineral to one or more amino acids.  This allows for the trace mineral complex to be absorbed directly into the body.  As a result, it is said to be more bioavailable and needs to be included at a lower level in the ration to achieve similar or better results. 

Practically, here are some considerations for providing trace minerals to your animals:

  1. All feed tags show the presence of the trace minerals. It will be listed under “Analysis” with amounts listed as a percentage or ppm (parts per million).  Under “Ingredients” it will show where the trace minerals are coming from (example – zinc oxide, zinc proteinate).  On a tag, the ingredients are listed from most to least.  In cases where there may be 2 forms of the same mineral the first one listed is included at a higher level. 

  2. Kelp is an excellent source of most of the trace minerals and they are in the chelated form. It is widely available and can be fed direct, mixed with salt and/or mineral or mixed in feed.  Personally, I mix kelp in all my grain mixes at the rate of 25#/ton and mix with my mineral/vitamin free choice mixes, this is safe for cattle, sheep, goats, horses and pigs.

  3. Sea salts, such as Redmonds or Sea-90, provide a wide trace mineral profile. Even though they are not chelated, they are soluble.

  4. Multimin is an injectable trace mineral product that includes Se, Zn, Cu, & Mn.  It has the advantage of not needing to be absorbed from the gut, so the animals are assured of having the product.  This is a low volume injection that lasts in the system for months.  Consider using this at:
    a) dry-off
    b) newborn calves
    c) at same time as vaccinating
    d) pre-breeding
    e) disease events
    f) stress events, such as weaning
    NoteOnly to be used in cattle.

  5.  Mu-Se and Bo-Se are selenium/Vitamin E injectables that are commonly used.     My experience has been to stay away from these products at dry-off or in last half of gestation.  Bo-Se is my choice for giving newborn lambs or goat kids to prevent White Muscle Disease.  It is a one-shot regimen and given sub-q.  As too    much selenium is toxic follow the label dosing closely.  I no longer use Mu-Se.  It           is not recommended for sheep and goats and I prefer Multimin for cattle.

  6. Vitamin B12 injectable contains Cobalt which is beneficial in red blood cell production. I use this in situations of blood loss, such as with excessive bleeding or with ulcers.

  7. IMPRO MVP Dairy Boost is a feed supplement that has proteinated trace   minerals.  I have found this product to be beneficial in herds having somatic cell issues, breeding problems and fresh cow ketosis issues.  Using in dry cow ration improves calf health and vitality also.  Feeding rate is ½ - 1 oz per head per day. 


Older Post Newer Post