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Minerals And Their Role In Livestock Production

6 July 2017

Minerals can be divided into two categories macro-minerals and micro-minerals (or trace elements).  Macro-minerals are those which are present in larger amounts and are normally expressed as a percentage of the total diets in DM for animal requirements.  The key macro-minerals are calcium, phosphorus, sodium, magnesium, potassium, sulphur and chloride.

Trace elements play a very important role in livestock nutrition and contribute significantly towards health, immunity, growth, fertility and lactation.  The functions of many hormones and enzymes depend on trace elements so they are essential for normal body function.  Despite their importance, they are needed in very small amounts, normally described in milligrams per kilogram.  The key trace elements in livestock nutrition are manganese, zinc, copper, cobalt, selenium and iodine.

Forage analysis is a useful tool to determine potential deficiencies in livestock rations and can be backed up by blood analysis.  This will determine the dietary mineral supply and provide recommendations on supplementary levels to meet animal requirements and achieve optimal performance, without exceeding EU regulations on maximum permitted levels.

Lorna MacPherson,

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