When a cow’s nutrient requirements are met, her immune system is optimized and she’s best equipped to remain healthy. If cattle nutrition requirements are not met and an animal faces a challenge, it will likely have a reduced ability to cope or develop an immune response.
Just how big of a role does nutrition play? Let’s evaluate by life stage:
A brood cow’s reproductive performance and health status depend on quality cattle nutrition. Additionally, reproductive efficiency can be strongly influenced by the concentration of key trace minerals in the diet. Before a calf is born, a cow transfers nutrients to the calf in utero to help develop its immune system. Appropriate body condition and adequate cattle mineral and vitamin status prior to calving help prevent challenges at calving, such as milk fever (driven by calcium status) and retained placenta (influenced by vitamin A, vitamin E and selenium). Cow nutrition also affects colostrum quality, which influences the calf’s nutrition.
The calf relies on the cow, both in utero and through colostrum, for early-life immunity. Other critical nutrition timeframes for calves occur at weaning and vaccination. A successful weaning program and vaccination protocol prepare calves for future disease challenges. Vaccines can be more effective when cattle are in adequate nutritional status.1
A breeding bull’s fertility is tremendously important. Bulls in good body condition can have improved sperm quality.2 Trace minerals, such as zinc, can influence the number of motile, functioning sperm and, ultimately, the bull’s fertility.
So, what can you do to set cattle up for success?
Make sure all animals receive a quality cattle mineral
to meet their needs year-round. Minerals and cattle vitamins play critical roles in many biological processes such as tissue formation, energy metabolism, milk production and other basic metabolic functions.
Management of cattle nutrition plays a key role in achieving desirable body condition scores. That may mean adding protein supplements
for cattle, or another form of energy supplement, to meet nutritional needs.
Managing stress is another way to maximize immunity. Stress events deplete natural stores of nutrients, such as minerals and vitamins. Find ways to reduce stress during weaning, transportation, cattle handling and more.
minerals today through the Feed Greatness® Challenge
1 Rice, D., E. D. Erickson, and D. Grotelueschen. 1986. Causes of Vaccination-Immunization Failures in Livestock. University of Nebraska, Lincoln.
2 Hansen, G. 2006. Managing Bull Fertility in Beef Cattle Herds. University of Florida.