South Africa

Health Care

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Good, Better, BEST – with Multimin®!

For stud farmers who need to provide fellow stud and commercial farmers with the best genetic material, precision farming plays a very important role to make it possible.

Nutrition is the base of any successful beef-cattle farming operation. An effective and sustainable pasture-management system is the most important part, but it is expected that nutritional deficiencies will be experienced during some parts of the year and during critical production stages. These deficiencies must be supplemented to meet the needs of the specific production classes. Only when the animals’ nutrition and condition are optimal can we expect optimal results from other management inputs like breeding.

Trace-element supplementation is part of nutrition and is getting more attention nowadays due to its important role in optimal production. Although trace minerals are only required in small quantities, they play a critical role in many bodily processes and it should receive due attention. We can no longer afford to pay attention to trace elements only once the symptoms of clinical deficiencies are observed. These symptoms are but the tip of the iceberg. Suboptimal levels of trace elements are the hidden part of the iceberg that do the most damage.

 

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As can be seen from the figure, optimal immunity is the first production parameter that is negatively affected by suboptimal levels of trace elements. Thereafter, maximum reproduction and production are negatively affected, followed by normal production and reproduction. It may be noticed that something is amiss at this stage, but is often only noticed once clinical symptoms appear.

South Africa is generally regarded as a country with low levels of trace minerals, which makes supplementation with trace minerals even more important, especially when there is great pressure on the periods between calving for cows to calve annually and wean a heavy calf.

Most commercial lick blocks contain trace elements that are important as a daily base supplement. However, oral supplementation is limited in that space constraints and dominant animals in the herd may limit some animals’ lick intake – and therefore their trace-mineral intake. Antagonists like calcium (Ca), iron (Fe), and sulphur (S) also play a big role in negatively influencing the gut’s uptake of trace minerals.

Refer to the figure for the intricate interactions between minerals and trace minerals.

 

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Injectable trace-mineral supplements like Multimin® were developed to overcome the limitations of oral supplements. Multimin® avoids the gut antagonists, because the trace minerals are taken up right from the point of injection and circulated throughout the body via the bloodstream for uptake and storage by organs like the liver. Another advantage is that every animal gets the right amount. Additional top-up supplementations can be administered before the start of critical periods in the production cycle when the demand for trace minerals is high, namely:

 
  • Before calving – the unborn calf gets all its trace minerals from the cow through the umbilical cord. A cow gives up about a third of her trace minerals to the calf. If her trace mineral status is not optimal, the calf’s trace mineral reserves at birth will also be suboptimal, which can negatively affect its viability. Trace minerals also play an important role in the development of an optimised immune system. If cows are vaccinated and receive the trace-mineral supplement during late pregnancy, immune reaction will be optimal. Quality colostrum is critical for the new-born calf and trace minerals are important, because they optimise antibodies in the colostrum. Milk is a poor source of trace minerals, so the calf must get as much trace minerals as possible during the cow’s late pregnancy and after birth through its milk.
  • Before mating – during mating, trace minerals play a critical role. In bulls, they are important for optimal sperm formation, development, and maturation. Recent research (Ferreira, 2013) demonstrated the Multimin® supplement’s effect on various fertility parameters in bulls. The most significant was the increase in sperm concentration, which is critical for conception. Because cows lose so much of their trace minerals when calving, supplementing before mating helps their trace-mineral levels recover more quickly. It also reduces the number of days between calving and conception, as well as the survival rate of embryos after conception.
  • Before weaning – weaning is a very stressful time that places great demands on the calf’s immune system. The immune systems of calves that received trace-mineral supplementation before weaning are optimal and they tolerate weaning shock better. 

 

The different formulations of Multimin® that have been developed over the past 25 years supply the most important trace minerals in a balanced ratio (for optimal uptake), sufficient quantities (to be effective), and in a tissue-friendly formulation. Trials in South Africa and internationally (USA, Australia, and New Zealand) demonstrating the benefits of Multimin® make it the most-researched injectable trace-mineral supplementation.

 

Contact your Virbac Technical Sales Advisor for more information on our products.

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