Health and nutrition. To some livestock producers these terms might seem like the “chicken and egg” expression, and leave you wondering which one came first. Do you amplify your nutrition program to get your animals to perform to their highest potential? Or does a high-quality nutrition program help keep your animals healthy and therefore performing?
According to Kevin Glaubius, Director of Nutrition at BioZyme® Inc., there are seven key nutrients that need to be considered to keep your animals’ health in ideal shape. Healthy animals are those with optimum nutritional programs, and those nutrients that need to be present in every diet include water, energy, protein, macrominerals, microminerals, vitamins and B vitamins. Glaubius explains the role of each nutrient in keeping animals healthy.
Water is the number one key to healthy animals. Water helps to increase feed intake and immunity. Glaubius reminds producers to always have a constant, fresh water supply for your animals. That means making sure water is not frozen over in the winter and ensuring water tanks are low enough for smaller calves to reach and accessible at all times.
A majority of energy will come from plant fiber, and the animals convert that forage to calories via fermentation. Feeding high-quality forage is important because lower quality forages result in lowered energy and an increased risk of sickness, meaning more calves that need to be treated. Decreased energy can also lead to weight loss. Weight loss combined with the cost of treating sick calves all adds to the cost of production and takes away from the producers’ bottom line.
Protein and energy levels should be synchronized because they really work in conjunction with one another. Protein is vital to the animal from the standpoint of nutrition and immunity. The molecules that make up the immune response are protein-based; therefore, vaccinations will be more successful in non-limiting protein diets.
Macrominerals have a direct effect on health problems in animals, typically if they are not in balance. For example, if your calcium to phosphorus ratio is not 1:1, that can lead to health challenges. If your potassium is higher than your magnesium, you might be prone to grass tetany. Cows do require salt, and if they don’t have adequate salt in their diets, that can lead to lowered feed and water intake.
Microminerals (trace minerals)
Copper, zinc, selenium, cobalt, and manganese are just a few of the trace minerals that are part of cattle diets. Although many microminerals are found in forages, like anything, an excess of them is not ideal. It is important to the animal’s health to have balanced microminerals, which ultimately helps with absorption
Some of the most important vitamins in the animal diets are vitamins A, D and E. Vitamin E is important as it works as an antioxidant and helps animals heal and recover from stress.
According to Glaubius, 80% of problems producers face are related to these top four nutrients: water, energy, protein and macrominerals. He adds that including a prebiotic with all of these nutrients will help increase their effectiveness and amplify the health and performance of the animals. Amaferm® is a precision-based prebiotic, research-proven to increase intake, digestion and absorption, thus increasing the overall health of the animal.
“Starting with a high-quality nutrition program will improve the overall health of your animals. Adding Amaferm to your diet can significantly improve the impact of all the nutrients. Amaferm is research-proven to drive feed and water intake. It also increases fiber digestibility, which will increase the overall energy, regardless of the quality of forages you have available,” Glaubius said. “Amaferm also helps increase absorption and plays a role in animal immunity.”
One way for calves to get the Amaferm advantage is through the VitaFerm® Gain Smart® mineral program. Four Gain Smart mineral formulas are available, and typically fed to stocker-aged calves based on their current diets.
“Adding Amaferm to the diet through the Gain Smart mineral is going to lead to a greater health response, and healthier cattle gain better. The difference in the Gain Smart formulations is largely related to the macrominerals they contain and the diets the cattle are on,” Glaubius said.
There are four mineral options: Gain Smart Stocker, Gain Smart Wheat, Gain Smart Balancer RU 1600, and Gain Smart Stocker HEAT®. All minerals are designed to balance basic nutrient needs for maximum efficiency. Gain Smart Stocker is designed for those who are feeding a medium-to high-forage diet and works well for both cool- and warm-season grasses. It is the most versatile of the three and can be fed in multiple places under multiple conditions.
Gain Smart Stocker HEAT contains capsaicin to help maintain circulation to support animal performance and gain in both heat and fescue situations. Capsaicin is research-proven to support animals’ ability to maintain normal body temperature. This mineral is ideal in the hot summer months or any time fescue is grazed. It Includes garlic, to deter insects. Ideally suited for backgrounding and yearling cattle on grass.
Gain Smart Wheat is formulated for a higher-quality forage diet rich in protein and nitrogen such as wheat, small grains and legumes. It includes extra magnesium to help balance the nutrients in the diets and should be fed in spring and early summer.
Gain Smart Balancer RU 1600 is designed for those calves that are being backgrounded or fed in a dry lot situation and fed a mixed grain ration. Balancer compliments the co-products like distiller’s grain and cereal by-products and works well with fermented feed like silage. Unlike the other minerals, it contains no phosphorus, but does have Rumensin in it. Balancer can be fed to heavier weights, and if you want to feed to heavier weights, it is a good selection when trying to improve feed efficiency.
Glaubius reminds producers that BioZyme does have an extensive dealer network, Area Sales Managers and staff nutritionists to help determine what products will best fit each individual scenario. He suggests always to have forages and feeds tested to know what nutrients need to be supplemented in your nutrition program, and BioZyme will forage and feed test for their customers.
Keeping your animal healthy starts with a good nutrition program, and a good nutrition program can be amplified with the Amaferm advantage.