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Fueling Modern-Day Dairy Cows With Premium Trace Mineral Nutrition

4 minute read

Believe it or not, you can learn a lot about modern-day dairy cows from high-performance race cars.  

We know that using 87 octane gasoline in your personal vehicle will get you from point A to B. But at the racetrack, it won’t win you many trophies. To maximize results on the track, professional racers know that fuel source is crucial to making high performance cars achieve their highest potential. 

Modern-day dairy cows are not so different. They are producing more milk than ever, mostly due to genetic selection, more attention to housing and cow comfort and improved forage quality. As the industry has positioned cows to make more milk, their nutritional requirements have increased. Recently, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM), previously known as the National Research Council (NRC), released new guidelines around nutritional requirements of dairy cattle for the first time since 2001.    

Just as gas is essential to run your car, trace minerals are fundamental to meeting more than just their maintenance needs. And, just like your car, it’s more than just making it around the track, it’s about winning. Dairy cows need trace minerals to help maximize their health and production potential.  

If you’re formulating the ration with 20-year-old recommendations, the cows will not be able to reach their maximum potential. This could lead to undesirable health outcomes for the cows and higher costs for your operation.  

In this post we will discuss:  

  1. Why trace minerals are crucial for dairy cows 
  1. How outdated recommendations can cost you money 
  1. How optimizing your trace mineral levels can create better health outcomes for your dairy cows 

Why Trace Minerals Are Crucial for Dairy Cows 

Each trace mineral, especially zinc, manganese, copper and cobalt, plays an important role in the overall health of your dairy cows.  

Zinc is responsible for protein synthesis, keratin formation, immune function and insulin function. It’s the primary mineral that helps dairy cows develop a rapid and robust response to immune challenges so they can utilize nutrients for milk production and maintenance.  

Manganese helps cartilage formation, immune function, reproduction and gluconeogenesis.  

Copper is critical for melanin pigment formation, ATP production, iron absorption and metabolic function. 

Cobalt is a component of vitamin B12 production and is important for efficient fiber digestion.  

It’s important to have a well-rounded ‘team’ of nutrients fueling your herd. A deficiency in any of these minerals will reduce your cows’ ability to perform at their maximum potential.  

Outdated Trace Mineral Recommendations Cost You Money 

Modern-day dairy cows are consuming more feed to reach their genetic potential. As feed costs continue to rise, this becomes a problem for your bottom line.  

Because of this, feed efficiency is one of the most important metrics to monitor on your dairy operation. It provides a snapshot of your profitability by showing how efficiently your dairy cows are converting feed into milk.  

Read More: Two Ways Feed Efficiency Can Increase Profitability and Reduce Costs 

Optimizing your trace mineral program for the modern-day dairy cow can help improve feed efficiency in two ways:  

  1. Helping dairy cows meet their nutritional requirements with less feed 
  1. Mitigating issues that divert nutrients and energy away from milk production, such as lameness, disease or other immune challenges.  

Formulating Your Trace Minerals for the Modern-Day Dairy Cow 

For 50 years, Zinpro has been researching the optimal level of trace minerals needed by dairy cows. As a result, the higher levels of zinc, manganese and cobalt, along with a lower level of copper included in Availa® Dairy are optimized for the modern-day, high-performing dairy cow. Availa Dairy is a combination that provides 40 ppm of zinc, 20 ppm of manganese, 3.5 ppm of copper, and 1 ppm of cobalt.  

Our research shows that these levels of trace minerals improve dairy cow performance, including:  

  • 9% greater feed efficiency 
  • 35% less lameness 
  • 5.5% increase in pregnancy rate, with 13 fewer days open 
  • 20% lower somatic cell count 

This blend of trace minerals reduces inflammation and improves gut integrity so your dairy cows can utilize nutrients and energy to increase milk production and improve overall performance. 

Together, we can help create better health outcomes for your dairy cows. Let’s connect to discuss your operation’s trace mineral needs and how our products and services can help your animals reach their full potential.