Clashing minerals could cause interference

Scientists are just starting to understand the mineral relationship 
with antagonists and how it can lead to deficiencies in livestock

PHOENIX, Ariz. — Getting enough vitamins and minerals into livestock is challenging, but sometimes chemical reactions among these products can also lead to deficiencies.

Producers must read the labels on the minerals they buy because the sources of the products may vary and they could interfere with one another and reduce their efficacy.

“Mineral antagonisms are a biochemical issue and happens regardless of geography,” said Dr. Matt Hersom, a beef researcher at the University of Florida.

Antagonists compete with copper, zinc, manganese and selenium and animals may be unable to absorb them.

For example, interference occurs when high levels of iron, sulfates or molybdenum exist in some regions. High sulfates or molybdenum can block copper absorption.

“Those antagonists can be very regional and you have areas of the West where you have a lot of sulfate in the water. That is where organic or chelated trace minerals work very well to get around that,” said Mark Robbins, manager of research and technology services with Ridley Block Operation, a supplements manufacturer.

Mineral deficiencies were discussed during the recent National Cattlemen’s Beef Association convention held in Phoenix.

Vaughn Holder, research project manager of beef nutrition and research at Alltech, which sells organic minerals, said scientists are just starting to understand the mineral relationship with antagonists.

“Just getting a little bit of mineral into the animal doesn’t make them grow faster. They don’t grow their tissues with minerals. They grow with energy and protein,” he said.

Tanya Covey, director of research at Texas feed manufacturer OT Feedyard and Research Centre, said many environmental problems can affect nutrient absorption.

Environmental antagonists such as water quality, forage, soil and gut reactions may all cause problems. For example, she said forages could contain zinc and that creates imbalances.

Robbins said producers should seek help from nutritionists to help them understand local needs and conditions.

As well, he said many products have a limited shelf life and are degraded by exposure to sunlight, air and moisture.

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