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Leading the Change for Nutrient Requirements in Dairy Cattle

5 minute read

For the first time in over 20 years, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM), formerly known as the National Research Council (NRC), released new guidelines for nutritional requirements in dairy cattle. However, since the last update in 2001, our team at Zinpro® has continued to conduct research to find what nutritional solutions are best for dairy cattle health and wellbeing.  

Avoid Health Obstacles with New Nutrient Requirements

When dairy cattle don’t receive essential trace minerals at the recommended levels, cows are at risk for nutrient deficiency, which can take up to a year to recover from once they are properly supplemented. This leads to a myriad of health concerns that decrease animal wellbeing and productivity. 

Depending on the severity, these issues can cause short- and long-term distress in dairy cattle, resulting in negative consequences on animal productivity, like reduced milk yield and fertility, impacting a producer’s bottom line. 

Let’s look at the key essential trace minerals for dairy cattle and what these updated requirements mean for you: 

  • Zinc is critical for maintaining dry matter intake and temperature during heat stress, epithelial integrity in the gut, a robust immune system, reducing somatic cell counts (SCC) and for the formation of keratinocytes, the epithelial cells that help form hoof cells and harder hooves. 
  • NASEM guidelines increased to 30 parts per million (ppm) from 25 ppm for dry cows.  
  • At Zinpro, we recommend 75 to 85 ppm for dry cows because zinc helps increase immunity and hoof health, allowing animals to have a healthier transition period.  
  • Manganese is important for wound healing, the development of connective tissue for collagen formation, immunity and reproduction.  
  • NASEM nearly doubled this requirement due to a new understanding of how manganese is absorbed, increasing to 40 ppm for dry cows and 30 ppm for lactating cows.  
  • At Zinpro, we recommend 55 to 75 ppm for dry cows because manganese helps increase immune function and aids in calcium metabolism, which is critical at transition, and improves reproductive performance.  
  • Iodine plays an important role in a cow’s immune system. From a therapeutic level, iodine helps increase the killing ability of white blood cells. Additionally, iodine helps maintain thyroid hormones, making it a key nutrient for energy and metabolism. 
  • NASEM included an increase to 1 ppm of iodine when feeding certain feeds, such as canola meal, turnips and raw soybeans.  
  • These feeds act as an iodine antagonist, preventing the animal from absorbing the mineral. Zinpro has foreseen this issue and our team has long recommended that diets should include 1 ppm iodine to avoid nutrient deficiency. 
  • Copper is an antioxidant that aids immunity and helps with energy and metabolism. It also helps harden hooves, protecting them against harmful environmental factors, aids B cell maturation and helps with connective tissue formation. 
  • NASEM requirements increased to 20 ppm for dry cows and decreased slightly in lactating cows.  
  • Zinpro has been a leader in finding the right balance of copper in dairy diets and was one of the first advocates for reducing copper supplementation in dairy diets. Our team’s years of experience have shown that copper will accumulate very efficiently in the liver when fed in excess, resulting in negative health outcomes like copper toxicity.  

Build a Proven Animal Nutrition Program for Optimal Herd Health

By including the highest-quality ingredients in your diet recommendations, you can prevent health-related losses. The Zinpro® Availa® product line has the most unrivaled mineral absorption in the market, allowing dairy cows to reap the benefits of the improved nutrient requirements and inclusion in diets. 

Zinpro® Availa® Dairy, our flagship dairy offering, has been shown across a multitude of studies to improve dairy cow performance with 9% greater feed efficiency, 35% decrease in lameness, 5.5% increase in pregnancy rate and a 20% lower SCC.  

Two components of Zinpro Availa Dairy, Zinpro® Availa Mn and Zinpro® Availa Zn, are proven to address significant headaches on dairies.  

  • Feeding higher levels of Zinpro Availa Mn can cut the incidence of milk fever in half from 4% to 2% and reduce death loss by 62% in transition cows.  
  • Feeding Zinpro Availa Zn results in a 60% reduction in digital dermatitis.  
  • When paired together, these two minerals are instrumental in helping animals fight bovine respiratory disease (BRD) by encouraging stronger immune responses, decreasing elevated temperatures, maintaining dry matter intake and preserving body weight.  

Preventing nutrient gaps by providing the proper amounts of trace minerals is a proactive way to promote and preserve herd health. Managing herd health and feeding Zinpro Availa at the recommended levels can increase milk yield 3-7 lb/cow, adding value to your business and cushioning your producer’s bottom line. By providing cows with the right nutrition and ideal environments, we can avoid costly health events, promote wellbeing and increase cow productivity. 

I’m excited that the results we’ve seen over the last two decades are now influencing the new dairy cattle nutrient levels, helping dairy nutritionists improve the health and productivity of animals. Healthy well-managed dairy herds reach higher levels of performance and profitability. You can be confident when partnering with Zinpro to deliver the best trace mineral nutrition backed by decades of industry leadership and research. Share this insight and the latest NASEM recommendations with your clients and herd health veterinarians to develop well-rounded programs to help your herds reach their best potential.  

Visit our website to learn more about specialized trace mineral nutrition for each stage of dairy production. Our Zinpro team of dairy nutrition experts are ready to connect and help you improve animal performance, while ensuring higher levels of animal health and wellbeing.