Quality Cattle Mineral Supplementation Creates Positive Lifelong Impacts

Management : Cow & Calf

Management : Replacement

Nutrition : Minerals

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Purina Animal Nutrition

The concept of fetal programming has been evolving in the beef industry for several decades as more research is done.

Fetal programming is defined as the time when tissues and organs are created during embryonic and fetal development. During this time, improper nutrition can permanently alter various metabolic and physiological functions of the fetus as it grows into an adult.

Recently, Purina® Wind and Rain® mineral was featured in a gestational nutrition research study by North Dakota State University.[1] The study aimed to illustrate the importance of providing minerals and vitamins during gestation and its impact on fetal programming.

Study design

Replacement heifers were synchronized and bred with sexed semen to create heifer calves. The resulting heifer calves were grown to a breeding age of 15 months upon conclusion of the study.

The only difference between groups was in the gestational nutrition of the dams, where Purina® Wind and Rain® mineral was fed to the study group at a rate of 4 ounces per head per day. The control group didn’t receive any supplemental mineral during gestation.

Throughout the study, both groups of dams were fed a basal diet of silage, hay and dried distillers grain to gain 1 pound per head per day. The basal diet wasn’t deficient in minerals compared to National Research Council requirements for cattle. Liver biopsies of both the control and study heifers were adequate for trace mineral profiles.

Following calving, both the study and control groups received mineral supplementation.

Research results

The supplementation of Purina® Wind and Rain® mineral significantly increased colostrum volume and weight compared to the control heifers. The dams supplemented with Purina® Wind and Rain® mineral produced 50% more colostrum than the control dams. The test calves received 1.5 times more trace minerals via colostrum because of the increased volumes, helping ensure they would get off to a good start.

At weaning, the heifer calves born from dams receiving Purina® Wind and Rain® mineral had larger ribeye area, chest and abdominal circumference than the controls. Weaning weights for the study calves were 36 pounds higher. It can be theorized that the calves from dams fed Purina® Wind and Rain® mineral could be more reproductively mature because of those improvements.

Additionally, the study calves carried out the weight advantage from weaning until the study stopped at 15 months of age. An advantage in weight gain and ribeye area could also be expected if those calves had been utilized for terminal production, yielding more pounds of beef produced.

Importance of research

Third-party, university research is vital to help validate the findings from Purina’s own research at the Purina Animal Nutrition Center and on-farm or ranch research done with producers. Purina didn’t sponsor this particular study, but there have been many other university research studies Purina has sponsored to help verify our findings.

The significance of cattle mineral and vitamin supplementation is often overlooked. Something as small as feeding 4 ounces of a mineral and vitamin product per head per day profoundly impacts the offspring’s performance and productivity. This study does a fantastic job of quantifying the benefits of feeding a cattle mineral and vitamin supplement during a critical development period.

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[1] Hurlbert, J. 2023. Trace Mineral Supplementation in Beef Cattle During Gestation. Master of Science, NDSU.