The Story of Vitamins

Stacy Hoffman, Livestock Production Specialist (507) 676-6401

Hello everyone and Welcome to 2018! I’m not sure where 2017 went, but I am looking to a new year in 2018 and the new things it will hold for the Ag industry.  With that, let’s take a look at one of those results, the vitamin market and what has most companies; along with Purina and All American Co-op Progressive Ag Center, looking closer to our vitamins.

Why do we need vitamins?  Vitamins are a very important class of nutrient.  They are necessary and required for efficient metabolic processes, this means they enable cattle to be able to utilize other nutrients within their diet.  They are essential to provide the fat soluble vitamins such as vitamin A, D, and E.  These vitamins can be stored in the body, however, it is unknown how long, depending on the size, age, and production stage of the animal.  If we were to stop or reduce vitamin supplementation it may take up to 6 months until we see the results of that decision.  In a cow/calf operation this is not something that we want to change since right now is the time that most of our brood cow herds are in their third trimester and we do not want to compromise that pregnancy in any way.

Let’s talk about Vitamin A on an individual basis.  Vitamin A is fat soluble and required by animals for normal growth and development.  It is most available in natural form in green grass and growing plants, which provide carotenoids (beta carotene) in many animals, including ruminants, these carotenoids can be converted in their body to Vitamin A. Vitamin A is an intricate part of the forming and maintenance of epithelial cell walls such as skin, but also the lining of respiratory, digestive, and reproductive tracts.  Vitamin A is also vital for eye health, proper kidney function, and normal development of bones, teeth, nervous tissue, as well as; maintenance of pregnancy and spermatogenesis.  One of the richest sources of Vitamin A is cow’s colostrum, another reason not to adjust a cows vitamin levels during this fragile time of the calf and the cow. Vitamin A supplementation is critical for cattle that do not have access to growing forages because they are either fed in confinement or lack of a forage because of the time of year.  Grazing cattle have an advantage that they can store Vitamin A in the liver for times when carotene or Vitamin A intake is inadequate to meet requirements.

Vitamin D is important for the absorption of calcium and phosphorous.  These help to regulate blood calcium levels, and the conversion of inorganic to organic phosphorous. It also aids in the formulation of sound bones and teeth.

Vitamin E is a necessary component in the structural components of membranes, and also inhibits the oxidation of other molecules. Vitamin E is vital for muscle and vascular function, it also supports the immune system, and carries a close relationship of interaction with selenium.

Dr. Chad Zehnder from Purina Animal Nutrition has been able to offer some answers on vitamins and the significance of each of them.  If you have specific questions or concerns about your herds vitamin intake, pleaes feel free to contact a member of our co-op feed team. We are here to help you make sound decisions that best suit your individual feed program. As always, thank you for our continued partnership with All American Co-op Progressive Ag Center, we look forward to serving you in 2018!

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