Getting the mineral levels right in your animals is crucial for optimal stock performance, particularly on our deficient pumice soils.
The pumice soils around this area are classically low in Copper, Cobalt, Selenium, Sodium and Magnesium, and most stock will need some form of supplementation.
Because the amounts of minerals required are low, and there is a fine line between deficiency, being adequate, or becoming toxic we provide a mineral testing and advisory service. We have the options of blood testing, performing liver biopsies or analysing samples from the freezing works.
To see which method of testing is right for you, and the best times to check your animals’ levels, please give your nearest centre a call.
We offer a variety of competitively-priced products for all stock classes, from mineral blocks to water treatment options, and are happy to give advise on others. Our aim is to ensure all trace elements are at the optimum level in your animals to ensure maximum productivity.
We even stock the popular Agvance minerals, which offer both off-the-shelf as well as fully customisable blends to give your animals exactly what they need.
Copper is an important mineral and is involved in many different processes in the body; in the immune system, red blood cell production and for the processing of iron.
Copper deficiency in livestock was quite common in the South Waikato in the past. Since the start of routine copper supplementation programmes and the feeding of palm kernel expeller (PKE) increased, copper deficiency is becoming increasingly rare (PKE is usually high in copper). We see deficiency now most commonly in dairy heifers on farms where the milking herd is on PKE and youngstock don’t receive any copper supplementation. Copper deficiency affects bone development, growth, skin and hair pigmentation and the ability to fight disease. It can present as poor growth rates, diarrhoea, hair coat abnormalities, bone fractures and poor reproduction.
Currently we see more cases of copper toxicity, present in herds that are feeding large amounts of PKE each day whilst still supplementing with copper. Copper toxicity can present as sudden death, ‘red water’ (red urine) and jaundice (yellow membranes and udders).
Supplementation with Copper
Copper is a very important mineral and deficiency as well as toxicity can cause major problems. Every farm is different and can change when management decisions change. For example liming can have a major effect on pasture copper levels. It is highly recommended to get the copper levels of your cattle tested regularly to ensure adequate levels. The most accurate way to test for copper is through liver samples. We can either do liver biopsies or get the livers from cull cows tested at the works. Blood samples can also be used to assess the copper status of your animals.
If the liver or blood samples show copper supplementation is recommended, one of our vets will discuss with you what the best option is for your farm. The most common options are:
- Water supplementation: Copper can be given alone or with other trace minerals through the dispenser. Chelates or organic copper forms are absorbed best by the cow.
- Injection: this means a high dose of copper at once enters the body and the liver needs to be working well to process this amount of copper. It can work well in certain circumstances but care needs to be taken as it can cause copper toxicity.
- Copper bullet: this is a slow release bolus and copper liver levels peak between six and fourteen weeks after administration and decline over variable periods of time. Often most suitable for youngstock where no water treatment dispenser is available.
Cobalt (Vitamin B12)
Cobalt is required by ruminants to make vitamin B12 for energy metabolism. This area is dominated by pumice soils that are known to be low in cobalt. Deficiency in cobalt leads to poor growth rates; ill-thrift and can lead to other signs such as diarrhoea and poor hair coat. Ultimately stock, particularly young ones, can die of this.
We can test your stock cobalt levels by taking blood samples or liver biopsies. Animals going to the freezing works can also have their livers tested – please phone the clinic to discuss testing your stock or to have suspect animals examined.
Supplementation with Vitamin B12
Pasture top dressing – general recommendation 350g Cobalt/ha/year on the pumice soil.
Dietary inclusion via mineral mixes – please see our information on Agvance mineral mixes.Cobalt sulphate can also be given daily via water treatment systems – please talk to a vet for further information.
B12 Injections – Talk to us about dose rates and frequency.
Neonatal ruminants get their B12 from milk and from what they have stored in their liver. Supplementation is therefore required post weaning when milk is no longer fed and liver storage becomes depleted.
Selenium is required by ruminants for normal growth and fertility. The pumice soils in this area are also low in selenium, making supplementation necessary in many cases. Deficiency in selenium causes poor growth rates, ill thrift, sub-optimal milk production and fertility issues.
Selenium is easily tested by taking blood samples. However, liver biopsies or freezing work’s liver assessment can also be used. Please phone the clinic to discuss what is best for your stock.
Supplementation with Selenium
Selenium prills in fertiliser
Dietary inclusion via mineral mixes – please see our information on Agvance mineral mixes.
Daily drenches or addition to drinking water
Selenium pour on for cattle and deer
Please note: Some drenches will contain minerals such as B12, selenium and copper. While B12 is safe in excess amounts, selenium and copper are toxic in overdose. Please always give us a call to discuss the different types of supplementation your animals are receiving to ensure that toxicity doesn’t occur.
Most of our Dairy systems supplement with B12 and selenium post-weaning in calves, and pre-mating and pre-calving in adult cattle. However, this differs from farm-to-farm depending on the history and previous test results. To avoid toxicity and maximise the benefits you gain from supplementation, come in and discuss your stock with one of our vets, whether it be dairy, sheep and beef, or deer.