Cow Tales by Kenny Barrett: Injecting Trace Minerals
January 21, 2013
Producers often struggle when it comes to trace mineral supplementation. Most cattlemen agree trace minerals are important but attitudes and strategies quickly diverge from there. Everyone seems to have an opinion and are quick to spout their version of the gospel. But what pours out is often little more than hints of anecdotal evidence with a tiny trace of science. What trace minerals cows need, what product or products meet those needs, how to provide them, and when they should be provided are engulfed in a cloud of confusion and sprinkled with a healthy dose of reality – leaving you with a really tough bite to chew.
There is no single trace mineral portfolio to address the herd investment for every ranch. No two operations are alike, principally because each ranch is rooted in solid ground. The soils are different creating water and forages with unique mineral spectrums. Addressing trace mineral excesses and deficiencies requires a thoughtful approach. Data needs to be collected to establish a starting point and identify challenges. Supplementation strategies vary and range from simple colored blocks of salt to complex supplements blended daily and fed in a TMR. Some operations may benefit from strategically administered injectable formulations of key trace minerals.
Multimin 90® is an injectable mineral formulation providing a boost of copper, zinc, manganese, and selenium. Dosage of the product is based on body weight and relative age. Manufacturer recommendations are to dose calves, yearlings, and adult cows at a rate of 1ml per 100, 150, and 200 pounds of body weight, respectively. It is important to note the manufacturer does not suggest using their product in place of a solid balanced trace mineral supplementation program. Rather, they suggest their injectable formulation can be used to enhance trace mineral levels in the body during key times in the production cycle, about three times each year.
For a calf, a label dose of Multimin 90® provides about the equivalent to a single daily requirement of copper, two days worth of zinc, half a day supply of manganese, and 50 days worth of selenium. Because the label dose for cows is half that for calves, it provides about half the daily requirements listed above. At first glance that doesn't seem like a very good value. After all, wouldn't it be just as easy to bolus four ounces of mineral to each cow through the chute? On second thought, I can't think of anybody that has administered boluses to cows that enjoys it. It is a great way to acquire a fantastic heavy weight shiner without losing an ear. More importantly, minerals injected under the skin are not subject to interactions in the rumen that may make them unable to be absorbed.
Research has demonstrated an increased mineral concentration in the body after receiving a dose of Multimin 90®. However, how large of an increase, how long the effect lasts, and how meaningful depends on the mineral in question. The product seems to have minimal effect on zinc status. That doesn't mean there is no effect but rather we just can't seem to measure it. Some scientists would argue we don't have an effective way to measure zinc status in the body. It is also possible the body is simply really efficient at regulating zinc status in the blood and liver – the ways we currently assess mineral status.
Injectable minerals seem to predictably increase blood levels of manganese and selenium. However, this effect is short lived and return to baseline levels in about 24 hours. So long as the minerals are transported to storage organs, they can have an effect for a longer duration. The trouble is we don't know a whole lot about storage of manganese. On the other hand, we can measure increased liver selenium concentrations for about two weeks. That selenium should be available for future use by the body in times of need.
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Multimin 90® seems to have the greatest effect on copper status. One dose can be expected to increase liver copper concentrations for two to four weeks. Liver, as the primary copper storage organ, is the best measure of body status. Copper absorption from oral supplements can be inhibited by interactions with other minerals in the rumen. Injectable formulations should provide a small boost of copper to meet the animals needs during key periods of production.
Copper, Zinc, Manganese, and Selenium are minerals that play a vital role in immune function, growth, and reproduction. Multimin 90® research has shown a boost in immune function as measured by antibody production with some vaccines, subclinical mastitis events, and bouts of endometritis. Additionally, some studies have been able to show an increase in AI conception, average daily gain, and even feed intake. After reading many studies it becomes clear Multimin 90® has the potential to have real effects in the animal. It would be nice to see future research compare more animals that are adequate to those deficient in specified trace minerals. Additionally, it is hard to find studies reporting economic outcomes of Multimin 90® as a treatment variable. These studies are time consuming, financially taxing, and many production outcomes can be difficult to assess. Hopefully, these studies will be available in the future.
Most animal health professionals would agree proper nutrition is essential to maximize immune function and animal production. Trace minerals are key to any nutrition program. Producers should consider injectable trace minerals as part of their supplementation strategy. Cattlemen need to establish a baseline and build a supplementation program from that vantage point. It is important to work with a trusted animal health professional when evaluating the role of Multimin 90® in your operation.
Metalloenzyme – any enzyme containing tightly bound metal atoms, e.g. cytochrome oxidase. Minerals often act as co-enzymes. As such they interact with the protein enzyme at the atom level through electron sharing and effectively alter the enzyme's active site.