Minerals: Necessity vs. Value

by Norman Leffler

by Norman Leffler

With the recent disaster at the BASF vitamin facility in Germany, we have seen an unprecedented price increase and potential for limited product in vitamins for a period of time. It sounds like we could have another several months before production is fully back online. We suspect that it may be a lot longer to see prices come down and may not get back to the price levels we saw before the fire.

In the past, it was considered a superior product or increased value by adding additional vitamins and in most cases only added a small amount to the cost of the product. We have become tag watchers instead of looking at what the animals truly need.

This feels like a similar situation from a few years back when phosphorous supply became short and pricey. We looked at actual animal needs and determined that we could reformulate products and still meet the animal requirements and save money. I am confident the same could be done in this process of getting closer to animal requirements while being cost-effective with vitamin use.  There are circumstances where higher than NRC standards may be needed, but careful consideration of the total nutrition needs to be the focus rather than just throwing more at problems.

Below is a mineral and vitamin relationship wheel. This is very busy drawing but shows how interconnected nutrition balance is. Just as an example, Selenium is directly connected to Sulfur, Zinc, Copper, Vitamin E, Iron, Vitamin B12, Vitamin A, Manganese and indirectly related to many sub-interactions so in reality by missing on Selenium you could be directly or indirectly having some impact on upwards of 50 interactions. Just because there is more added doesn’t mean everything is improved or fixed. You could have a negative response or create an antagonistic response to many nutrients just because more is of something added. BALANCE IS IMPORTANT.

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**Image Source: 5334cbc7a8362cfe3500009a. Digital Image. http://www.mitavite.com

The important thing to understand is that MORE IS NOT ALWAYS BETTER. When considering value, we need to consider a balanced plan that provides the best interactions that promote the best utilization of what we are feeding the animals and what our goals are with the feed and the animals. Contact your local CVA Feed Location or one of our Beef Sales folks to review your rations and help you to meet the needs of your herd.