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Journal of Animal Science Abstract - Symposia

Practical applications of trace minerals for dairy cattle12


This article in JAS

  1. Vol. 92 No. 2, p. 416-426
    Received: Sept 12, 2013
    Accepted: Nov 17, 2013
    Published: November 24, 2014

    3 Corresponding author(s):

  1. T. R. Overton 3 and
  2. T. Yasui*
  1. Department of Animal Science, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853


Trace minerals have critical roles in the key interrelated systems of immune function, oxidative metabolism, and energy metabolism in ruminants. To date, the primary trace elements of interest in diets for dairy cattle have included Zn, Cu, Mn, and Se although data also support potentially important roles of Cr, Co, and Fe in diets. Trace minerals such as Zn, Cu, Mn, and Se are essential with classically defined roles as components of key antioxidant enzymes and proteins. Available evidence indicates that these trace minerals can modulate aspects of oxidative metabolism and immune function in dairy cattle, particularly during the transition period and early lactation. Chromium has been shown to influence both immune function and energy metabolism of cattle; dairy cows fed Cr during the transition period and early lactation have evidence of improved immune function, increased milk production, and decreased cytological endometritis. Factors that complicate trace mineral nutrition at the farm level include the existence of a large number of antagonisms affecting bioavailability of individual trace minerals and uncertainty in terms of requirements under all physiological and management conditions; therefore, determining the optimum level and source of trace minerals under each specific situation continues to be a challenge. Typical factorial approaches to determine requirements for dairy cattle do not account for nuances in biological function observed with supplementation with various forms and amounts of trace minerals. Trace mineral nutrition modulates production, health, and reproduction in cattle although both formal meta-analysis and informal survey of the literature reveal substantial heterogeneity of response in these outcome variables. The industry has largely moved away from oxide-based programs toward sulfate-based programs; however, some evidence favors shifting supplementation strategies further toward more bioavailable forms of inorganic and organic trace minerals. Furthermore, opportunities for specific modulation of aspects of health, milk production, and reproduction through supplementation strategies for diets of transition dairy cows are attractive because of the known dynamics of energy metabolism, immune function, and oxidative metabolism during this timeframe.

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