Consultants in:  Hydroponics Fodder and vegetables Growing  in Kenya,Uganda and Tanzania. Manufacturing of Animal Feeds and NPK Fertilizers,

and soon to Rwanda.

The nutritional requirements of most animals are relatively extensive and complex compared with the simple requirements of plants. The nutrients used by animals include:



-Nucleic acids, 

-Fiber and 


Nature has provided different and diverse sources of nutrients in order to support life. Selecting these sources and utilizing the nutrients in proper proportion is the hard work. This article will try to explain some sources of nutrients and their limitation when used beyond certain upper limits. They include: 

Carbohydrates are the basic source of energy for all animals. Animals get their carbohydrates from sources within the external environment. About ½ to 2/3 of the total calories every animal consumes daily are in the form of carbohydrates. Glucose is the carbohydrate most often used as an energy source. This monosaccharide is metabolized during cellular respiration and part of the energy is used to synthesize adenosine triphosphate (ATP). Other useful carbohydrates are maltose, lactose, sucrose, and starch.


Lipids are used to form cellular and organelle membranes, the sheaths surrounding nerve fibers, and certain hormones. One type of lipid, the fats, are extremely useful energy sources.

Proteins form the framework of the animal body. Proteins are essential components of the cytoplasm, membranes, and organelles. They are also the major components of muscles, ligaments, and tendons, and they are the essential substances of enzymes. Proteins are composed of 20 kinds of amino acids. Although many amino acids can be synthesized, many others must be supplied in the diet. During digestion, proteins are broken down into their constituent amino acids, which are absorbed into the body.


Nucleic acids are used for the construction of deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA), ribonucleic acid (RNA), and ATP. Animals obtain their nucleic acids from plant and animal tissues, especially from cells that contain nuclei. During digestion, the nucleic acids are broken down into nucleotides, which are absorbed into the cells.


Among the minerals required by animals are phosphorus, sulfur, potassium, magnesium, and zinc. Animals usually obtain these minerals when they consume plants.


Vitamins are organic compounds essential in trace amounts to the health of animals. Vitamins can be water soluble or fat soluble. Water-soluble vitamins must be consumed frequently, while fat-soluble vitamins are stored in the liver in fat droplets. Among the many essential vitamins are vitamin A for good vision, vitamin B for substances used in cellular respiration (FAD, NAD, and coenzyme A), and vitamin D to assist calcium absorption in the body.

Fiber in diet is the indigestible plant material mainly complex polysaccharides and non-carbohydrate component called lignin. They resist hydrolysis by enzymes in the gut and hence they don’t end up in blood stream like other nutrients. However their importance in poultry diet is very pivotal in body hence they must be used properly.

Fibre contributes greatly to balkiness any livestock feed. However, in some cases there is no marked relationship between fiber content and balkiness. For example, wheat bran is one of the bulkiness feed but contains one third as much fiber as do sunflower seeds.

Fiber is important in poultry feed due to the following reasons;

-         Prevention of opportunistic infections; fiber is utilized by lactobacillus species of bacteria which lead to production of lactic acid. Lactic acid lowers pH which favors a good balance of gut micro flora thereby discouraging growth and proliferation of salmonella SPP and other gut infections.

-         Slow flow for better digestion;

Fiber necessities slow flow of gut contents thereby improves bio availability of nutrient due to better digestion.

-         Cannibalism;

Various studies have pointed that lower fiber contents in feeds have resulted to increased cannibalism in poultry. This is probably due to decrease in time occupied by eating.

-         Ammonia production;

High fiber ingestion leads to high ammonia in manure. This is because fiber provides energy to bacteria that use nitrogen that would otherwise be excreted as uric acid in manure. Bacterial metabolism produces acid which lowers pH changing ammonia to ammonium.

High Ammonia levels in droppings leads to gut irritations, respiratory disease, dermatitis, and foot burns.

-         Yolk and plasma cholesterol

Fiber binds bile acids and cause acid to be secreted in feces. This reduces the amount of bile acid returning to liver and forces liver to produce more bile to replace those lost in feces thereby converting more cholesterol into bile acid which lowers yolk and plasma cholesterol.

-         Mineral balance

Fiber has a direct control of electrolyte retention in the body for example high oat fiber diet results in sodium and potassium retention.

Soya contributes to copper retention while soya and oat both contribute to iron retention.

-         Nitrogen balance;

Amino acids in fibrous feeds are less digestible than those in low fiber ingredients requiring high amount of amino acids to meet the required digestible amino acid.

Rising animal feed costs in Kenya hit livestock farmers hard

By peter Chege _ 01/09 May 2011

Animal feed manufacturers in Kenya are shutting down all over the country and many others are operating at half capacity and struggling to cover their costs, according to the Association of Kenya Feed Manufacturers (Afefema). Due to a shortage of grain, by-products and oil cakes and price of animal feed has on average, gone up by 50-94% since October 2010. The result being an increase in the cost of animal feeds to a point where most farmers are not able to sustain their livestock.


Akefema has on several occasions alerted the government to the critical consequences facing the livestock industry if no action is taken. Farmers are currently managing their animals at a loss and as a result many have already started to reduce numbers, especially in poultry. This is because animal feed accounts for 60-80% of the total cost of livestock production.

There has been a big outcry from the farmers due to the increasing cost and shortage of animal feeds.


Akefema feels that there are some urgent issues in the livestock industry that need immediate government attention to ensure continued viability. The current shortage of raw materials threatens livestock production and hence farmers livelihood and the people who depend directly and indirectly on the industry. These publications aims at creating awareness to the livestock farmers and feed manufacturers, livestock farmers can make their own quality livestock feeds. Making of livestock feeds is simple as it involves physically mixing of raw materials. There is no physical or chemical change in raw materials.


The most critical aspect is ensuring that feeds contains energy,proteins,vitamins,minerals,antibiotics,enzymes in the right proportion and form that can be absorbed, observing the limit levels for the every raw materials depending with the type of livestock age and also ensuring  proper mixing. Just as we need balanced diet, livestock need balance diet for maintanance and production. The balance diet and limitation levels are discussed below.




In the last two decades, large part of small holder sector in Kenya has been transformed from a traditional substance oriented sector holder sector produced 70 % of the total milk output, 75% of the total beef production, and a substantial amount of eggs and chicken. However, the major constraints in livestock production is the quantity, quality and cost of available feeds. The average land per caput as per 2000 estimates, by small holders in the two of the highly populated districts, Kakamega and Kiambu, is 0.20 and 0.19 ha respectively within these small hectares there is a severe competition on the available food and feed crops.

Amongst the productive area of research in alleviating the above problem is helping our people to discover how to double or even triple their profit on livestock investment. Those who will directly benefit from implementing these modern ways of making feeds includes:-

·        Primary and high school drop outs who are seeking a suitable business to venture.

·        Need to find knowledge in feed formulation and set up a livestock feed mill.

·        Interested in running profitable animal farm business

·        Discover and exploit the improved livestock feed formulation

·        Stock owners whose animals are malnourished.

·        Animal breeder suffering from under yoke of high cost of feeding

·        Planning a career in animal husbandry

·        Salary earner who needs additional source of income on part-time.

·        A retiree and want a home based business

·        The type who wants to disband the old percentage method that does not consider the                nutrient requirements proportion and chemical composition of feed stuff.

·        Want to be self- employed and financially free.


The source of raw materials for making feeds, inclusion rate and their limitation levels are the areas where most feed formulates violate. They are discusses below.

1.      Energy

The simplest way to raise energy content of feed is to add fat and feed fuel besides commonly used energy sources, however, most feed formulators lack information on which fat and form to incorporate on feeds. The advantage fat offers over proteins and hydrocarbons are that it supplies a much higher gross energy content. The fact that fat is easily digested by most animals further underline this advantage in connection with the net energy content which is why the fat content is entered in the estimated valency hence lower cost of feed production. High energy feed is important for animal nutrition, but also from competitive point of view.

2.      Proteins

Protein in livestock feed comes from both animal and plant sources. Unfortunately the reality in Kenya is often  different many commercially sold feeds do not have the required nutrient level, but at the same time the management is giving the lowest amount at feed referring to the consideration the feed quality, for example layers are only given a daily ratio of 105 g / bird/ day stated as one option in the management guide although the feed does not meet requirement of 17.81% protein (Lohmann feed for layers week 19-45), but only contains 16% protein, the bird may need to consume more feed in order to meet bird day need to consume more feed in order to meet its requirement of 18.70g protein per day.

3.      Fibre

It is generally accepted that fibres may improve intestinal digestion by reducing the number of goblet cells present on the villous structures in the small intestine, and hence reduce the amount of goblet mucin which acts as luminal barrier against absorption. This, however, may not always be the case, especially with fibre sources of high molecular weight or those having high methoxyl contents such as sunflower, citrus pomace, rice bran, cotton seed cake etc.

Excess feeding of such fibre sources may lead to enlargement of the intestinal villi arising from physical stimulation of villous growth similar to that observed with ruminants fed on high fibre diets, where rumen papillae are also enlarged through the physical action  of fibres.

The increased size of the villi is often coupled with about two fold increase in goblet cell numbers which adversely affects absorption. The excessive use of such fibre sources in the diet may also increase viscously of the intestinal content, with a resulting decrease in bioavailability of vitamin A and utilization of dietary fats which adversely affects body weight gain and carcass quality. It is therefore recommended to use such sources of fibre in limited amounts when better performance is to be achieved.

It is sad to note that in Kenya and most of African countries most livestock feed manufacturers do not have these information and to make the matter worse raw material with high fibre are generally cheaper hence the feed formulators  use feeds with  excessive fibre content either by cutting cost or because they do not know their adverse effects.

4.      Premises

The most feed premises used in animal feed production today are vitamins, minerals, amino acids and enzymes of these ingredients the groups products which has probably created greatest interest in the industry in recent years is enzymes. In terms of animal feeds which are predominantly composed of cereals and vegetable proteins, a large proportion of these ingredients of these ingredients cannot be fully digested by mono- gastric animals. Much of the energy available is locked up inform of non- starch poly- saccharides (Xisp) that mono- gastric animals are enable to digest.Similary most plant materials used in animal feeds contain the mineral phosphorous which is bound in the form of phytic acid and cannot be degraded by mono-gastric animals. It is sad to note that most feed manufacturers do not have this information and contains relying on bad sources. External enzymes added directly to feeds act as supplement to the normal digestive enzymes already found in the animals digestive system. The idea of using enzyme supplements is to increase digestibility, facilitating better utilizations of feeds. The greater the utilization of feeds the better the animal performance and the lesser the load on the environment in terms of manure or waste. In short, the correct use of micro- ingredients such as vitamins, minerals, amino acids antibiotics and enzymes and their availability to the animal feed in exact amounts is playing an increasingly important role in efficient animal production, not only from an economic point of view but also from an environmental point of view.


5.  Mycotoxin binders

 All people dealing with animal production will have heard the term mycotoxins, these ubiquitous toxic substances produced by toxigenic moulds (Table 1). Mycotoxins have a great negative impact on the performance and health of the animals ingesting them. When mycotoxins exist in breeder flocks, several aspects must be taken into account which will have a negative impact on the final productivity of the animals.

General problems such as decreased feed intake, feed refusal, egg production, egg weight, egg shell quality, hatchability and higher mortality rates are well described in the literature and are known to occur in the presence of mycotoxin contaminated feeds. However, there are some other problems which may exist in a farm in which mycotoxins are (mistakenly) not considered to have an impact.

 Classifications of ergot alkaloid producing fungi are shown in Table 1.

Table 1: Major mycotoxin producing fungi and respective mycotoxins produced

Major mycotoxin producing fungi (amongst others)

Major mycotoxins produced(amongst others)

A. flavus
A. parasiticus
A. ochraceus

Aflatoxin (B1, B2, G1, G2)
Ochratoxin (Ochratoxin A

F. verticillioides (syn. F. moniliforme)
F. graminearum
F. pseudograminearum
F. culmorum

Fumonisins (B1, B2, B3)
Type-A Trichothecenes:
T-2 toxin, HT-2 toxin, diacetoxyscirpenol
Type-B Trichothecenes:
Nivalenol, deoxynivalenol (DON), fusarenon-X, acetyl-deoxynivalenol


Proper Mycotoxin Risk Management

After the acknowledgment that mycotoxins are a major hindrance to a successful production, mycotoxin risk management is crucial to eliminate the effects of mycotoxins and their toxicity. Livestock feeds should contain substances called mycotoxin binders. These binders eliminates mycotoxins present in feeds

When to do Mycotoxin Risk Management

Whilst it is true that prevention should be done on a continuous basis since the mycotoxin threat is permanent, there are some critical periods during a breeder production cycle where their risk management should be stricter. These periods refer to those when animals, because of their stage and largely due to the stress that there are subjected to, are mostly sensitive to the hazardous effects of toxins (Figure 1). Young animals until 8 weeks of age are the most sensitive against mycotoxins even though their feed intake is low. Later on, the risk is that pullets do not maintain feed intake due to formulation changes, where mycotoxins are a threat. If the necessary laying weight is not reached then the achievement of sexual maturity might be jeopardized. Finally, the last critical period comprises the time from start of laying until after the laying peak, just following the stress of transfer, when animals are under very high production demand and still growing to reach their mature bodyweight.

The management of mycotoxins’ risk must be done on a preventative basis rather than focusing on treatment. More frequently than not, the money lost with the reduced productivity and irregular results, increased mortality and susceptibility to diseases due to mycotoxins is greater than that invested in prevention.  The use of a good mycotoxin risk management tool is of utmost importance to guarantee a successful and stable production with fluctuating feed quality in terms of mycotoxin contamination.


Important messages to be highlighted:

“Regardless of the mode of action on how mycotoxins damage the immune system –              

either by affecting cellular responses or humoral factors, the net result is oftentimes the impaired resistance to infectious agents.”

“The money lost with the reduced productivity and irregular results, increased mortality and susceptibility to diseases due to mycotoxins is greater than that invested in prevention.”

“All livestock feeds must contain mycotoxins binder to prevent incidents of                              mycotoxin Toxicity”     



The trainees will benefit financially as shown in the following table

NB:      PC- Those who will produce for own consumption

            PS- Those who will produce for selling




Cost of production Kshs

Whole sale price Kshs

Retails Price Kshs

PS Profit Kshs

PC Profit Kshs

Livestock feeds

Chick mash








Growers mash








Layers mash








Broiler Starter








Broiler Finisher










Cast weaner








Dairy Meal








Saw meal








Pig finisher

70 kgs









P.C. Gichuku (Research Development and Implementation)


Nutritional problems in terms of quality and quality of mineral supplements are the most critical constraints to milk production. The current low levels of milk production do not reflect the generic potential of most dairy breeds of cattle reared in Kenya.

Low amount of forage to meet the nutritional requirements of the animal is made worse by low nutritive value and poor knowledge by livestock farmers on dairy cattle requirements.

Although commercially produced mineral supplements offers a potential option of optimizing mineral availability in order to meet the dairy requirements of the dairy cow, they are usually costly and most have issues with quality and this has tended to discourage farmers. Homemade ratio can be a solution to the problem of cost and quality as discussed below.


Most commercial produced mineral supplements does not meet the set standards.

The reason being that the manufactures lack enough skills on how to make quality mineral supplements of very important is the ratio between calcium and phosphorus and presence of vitamin D3 .

All the minerals required by cattle are discussed elsewhere in this document.


The current high cost of livestock mineral supplements is not justified because 90% of raw materials are mined in Kenya and very cheap. Mixing of these minerals is usually done manually and there is no chemical or physical change on the raw materials and  are mined in Kenya and very Cheap. Mixing of these minerals is usually done manually. Table A gives the financial benefits of making mineral supplements for commercial purposes or own consumption.


The trainee will benefit financially as shown below.

NB:      PC- Those who will produce for own use.

PS- Those who will produce for selling 





Cost of production


Wholesale price Kshs

Retail price Kshs

PC profit Kshs

PS profit


Livestock mineral supplement

For dairy cow







For dry cow







For beef cow







Cattle require a number of dietary mineral elements for normal bodily maintenance, growth, and reproduction. Minerals that are required in relatively large amounts are called major or macro elements. Those needed in small amounts are classified as micro, minor, or trace minerals. These terms, however, have no relationship to the metabolic importance of a mineral in the diet. A trace mineral can be essential to the health and performance of an animal as a major mineral. The major minerals include calcium, phosphorous, magnesium, potassium. Sodium, chlorine and sulfur. Among those needed in trace amount are iron, zinc, manganese, copper, iodine, cobalt and selenium.

Functions of minerals


Calcium is used in the formation and maintenance of bones and teeth. It also functions in transmission of nerve impulses and contraction of muscle tissue. A dynamic system involving calcium, phosphorous and vitamin D exists to maintain a relatively stable concentration of calcium in the blood. Calcium and phosphorous are stored in bone and mobilized into the circulatory system when dietary intake of the two minerals is adequate Blood calcium level is not a good indicator of a dietary calcium deficiency because blood calcium is reflective of both calcium intake and calcium mobilization from bone. A common method of minimizing the risk of milk fever is to reduce calcium intake by cows for two weeks before calving. This ensures that the calcium mobilization system is functioning properly before lactation. After calving, dietary calcium is increased to meet the requirement of the lactating cow.

Calcium requirements change depending on animal age and production status.

None -lactating, pregnant cows require calcium at a level of 0.18 percent of total dry matter intake, while the requirement for lactating cows is 0.27 percent of total dry matter intake. Growing and finishing cattle require 0.31 percent calcium for optimal growth. The maximum tolerable level of calcium is not known.


Phosphorous works in conjunction with calcium in the formation of bone. In addition phosphorous is a component of deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) , the molecules that make up chromosomes and control genetic inheritance. Phosphorous is also involved in the chemical compounds like adenosine triphosphate and creative monophosphate are the body’s major storage depots of readily available energy. Worldwide, phosphorous deficiency is reported to be the most prevalent mineral insufficiency in grazing livestock.

Because of their mutual role in bone metabolism, calcium supplementation and phosphorous supplementation are usually considered simultaneously. The recommended calcium- to- phosphorous ratio in ruminant diets is 2:1 to 2: 1 Significant deviation from this ratio can result in abnormal bone growth and a condition known as water- belly. Water- Belly occurs when calcium containing concretions known as urinary calcium are formed in the kidneys. This calcium can block normal urine excretion and cause death in steers when left untreated. Heifers is usually not affected by the water belly disorder.


Magnesium is an activator of many metabolic enzymes. These enzymes control reactions that range from the breakdown of glucose for energy to the replication of DNA. Which is necessary for cell division. The most common problem associated with magnesium deficiency is a condition known as grass tetancy. Observed most frequently in the early spring, grass tetany results from the consumption of lush forage, which has low levels of magnesium. The apparent depression in magnesium levels results from the high water content of rapidly growing plants. Symptoms include frequent urination erratic behaviour and convulsions .If left untreated, death can occur within several hours. Grass tetancy is a major problem in some areas of Missouri and supplementation with magnesium can alleviate the problem. Cattle need about 0.04 to 0.1 percent magnesium in the dry matter of their ration. In areas where grass tetany is prevalent. Higher levels of magnesium (up to 0.25 % of dry matter intake) have been found beneficial to prevent grass tetancy.

Magnesium oxide is the most common form of supplemental magnesium used to prevent grass tetancy: However, it is characterized by bitter taste. Livestock are often unwilling to consume it at recommended levels. Making free – choice supplementation of magnesium oxide to grazing cattle problematic. An uncomplicated methods of supplementing magnesium oxide to cattle grazing grass tetancy- provocative pastures is to mix it with a grain or oilseed supplement.

Sodium and Chloride

The requirement for sodium and chlorine is commonly expressed as a salt requirement. Both sodium and chlorine function to maintain the volume, PH and osmolarity of the body fluids. Chlorine is essential for hydrochloric acid production in the abomasums and for carbon dioxide transport. The maximum advisable level for sodium in the diet is 0.08 percent of the dry matter for dry cows and 0.1 percent for lactating cows. The requirement for chlorine is unknown.


Potassium is ubiquitous in the body of mammals because it is required in large amounts by most organ systems for normal functioning. Thus a deficiency of potassium results in nonspecific symptoms such as poor appetite, followed by thinness, reduced performance and stiffness, especially in the joints of the front legs. Potassium levels of 0.6 to 0.7 percent of ration dry matter are necessary to promote optimal performance by growing and finishing cattle. There is no evidence that potassium I needed in feedlot rations that contain sizable amounts of silage or another roughage. Additionally, rations containing molasses are not likely to be deficient in potassium Grain often has less than 0.5 percent potassium; therefore, potassium supplementation may become critical in certain high concentrate rations.


Cobalt is required for synthesis of vitamin B 12 by luminal bacteria. Since Vitamin B 12 synthesis occurs in the rumen, cobalt must be consumed in the diet, injections of cobalt are not effective means to correct deficiency. The daily cobalt requirement for beef cattle is 0.1 ppm of the total diet dry matter. Deficiency symptoms for cobalt include loss of appetite in the early stages of deficiency followed by muscle wasting and anemia, as the deficiency becomes more severe, Vitamin B12, levels in the liver are a useful indicator of cobalt status .Levels of at least 0.19 ppm are considered adequate while lower levels indicate a cobalt deficiency.

Cobalt supplementation is advisable for beef cows, wintered on low – quality roughages of all types. In fact, most tall fescue hay samples collected in Missouri are marginal or deficient in cobalt Adding lounce of cobalt chloride or cobalt sulfate to each ton of free- choice mineral mixture is recommended for beef cows.


Copper deficient are fairly common among cattle that consume Missouri forages as a major portion of their diet. Deficiency symptoms include unthriftiness, bleaching of the hair coat, and anemia. Copper levels of 10ppm are considered adequate for beef cattle. In regions where the vegetation supplies less than 5 ppm of copper, adults beef animals occasionally suffer from falling disease, a condition resulting in sudden death due to acute heart failure and anemia. If a copper deficiency is suspected, it may be advisable to have the diet analyzed for sulfur molybdenum and iron content in addition to copper .These minerals are known to interfere with copper absorption, thus increasing the copper requirement. High levels of inorganic sulfur and molybdenum in the diet can increase the copper requirement by two – or three old. Calves fed exclusive milk diets for long periods may develop copper deficiencies, but clave raised in a pasture setting rarely exhibit deficiency symptoms.

Copper toxicity in beef cattle has occurred when diets contained a little as 115 ppm copper in the total ration; however, large amount of copper must accumulate in the liver before toxicity is observed .Just as levels of molybdenum, iron and sulfur influence the copper requirement, they also  influence the level of copper needed to elicit toxicity symptoms. Copper toxicity symptoms include (hemoglobin in the urine) and jaundice. Death may result after extended periods of toxicity.


Iron functions in oxidative enzyme systems involved in energy metabolism. It also enables the hemoglobin in red blood cells to carry oxygen to the tissue of the body. The iron requirement for beef cattle is 50ppm. Milk is low in iron so young animals are likely to have “nutritional anemia” from a deficiency of iron caused by an exclusive milk diet: however, iron deficiency is rarely seen in claves raised in a pasture setting. Other iron deficiency symptoms include reduced feed intake and pale mucus membranes. A deficiency of iron is not likely to occur with adult cattle in Missouri that have been provided with reasonable parasite control .Under extremely high densities of external parasites, enough blood loss can occur to cause symptoms of anemia.


Manganese functions as a part of numerous enzyme systems. Growing cattle require 20 ppm in the diet while breeding cattle require 40 ppm. High levels of dietary calcium and phosphorus may interfere with manganese metabolism, causing the dietary requirement for manganese to increase. A deficiency of manganese in beef cattle under natural conditions has been reported in only a few areas of the northwestern United Sates. Deficiency symptoms include reduced fertility in cows and crooked calf syndrome in young calves. Crooked calf syndrome is typified by weak legs and swollen joints in newborn calves.


Animal requirements

Cattle require different levels of minerals, depending on age, size sex, physiological state, performance and beef or dairy requirements is given in table 1A. Some examples of nutrient requirements for cattle eat different stages of maturity and production are provided in Table 1B.The maximum level of each mineral that can be safety tolerated by bee cattle is also included for reference purposes.

A compilation of supplements that may be used to meet animal requirements for specific mineral nutrients is provided in Table 2. Both the amount of mineral in the supplement and the bioavailability (i.e. the amount of mineral in the supplement that is able to be absorbed and subsequently used by the animal) are important factors in determining which mineral supplement is most cost effective. The first supplement under each mineral heading is the standard to which all of the other supplements were compared to determine the relative bioavailability value (RV). For instance, calcium carbonate is the standard by which all calcium supplements are compared. It is assigned an RV of 100 percent. Calcium from bone meal is 10 percent more bioavailability than calcium carbonate, resulting in an RV of 10 percent. Some commonly used supplements contain more than one mineral. If diets are deficient in more than one mineral, it may be cheaper to use a supplement that supplies more than one required mineral than to purchase a separate supplement for each mineral.

Supplementation strategies

Several methods are commonly used to supplement rations for cows with minerals.

·        Mix minerals into complete ration. The best way to ensure that each animal gets the proper level of minerals in its diet is to mix a good source of the missing or deficient minerals into a complete ration. Some nutritionists recommend that minerals be offered free- choice to cattle even though the ration includes minerals. If this is done trace- mineralized salt should be fed separately from a mixture of equal parts iodized salt and dicalcium phosphate. This will allow animals a choice of salt alone or a salt- mineral mixture with the correct ration of calcium to phosphorous – 1.2:1.0.
·        Add minerals to a supplemental feeding these scenario minerals should be added to a feed grain supplement at levels that are sufficient to meet requirements for all mineral elements. This approach ignores minerals supplied by the forage. Knowing the level of intake of the supplement is critical to the success of this method.
·        Use free- choice mixtures. Self – feeding minerals free- choice is a satisfactory method of mineral supplementation under most conditions: however, cattle will not have their mineral needs perfectly met with this system. Some animals will over consume a self – fed mineral supplement while others will eat less than they need. In this system, salt or highly palatable concentrates are used to encourage supplements intake. The target intake is about 2 ounces per animal per day for most commercially available self- fed mineral supplements.
·        Mineral interactions
·        Proper Balance between minerals is critical. Perhaps the best illustration of this principle is the relationship between calcium and phosphorus. Calcium –to p- phosphorous rations of 2:1 to 1.2: 1 are recommended rations, beef cattle diets. Variation from the recommended ratios especially providing more phosphorous than calcium in the diet. Variation from the recommended rations, especially providing more phosphorous than calcium, in the diet, can lead to urinary calculi. Or water-belly in the diet, can lead to urinary calculi or water- belly in steer calves. While striving to maintain the proper balance between dietary calcium and phosphorous care must be taken not to get the absolute levels of these minerals too high in the diet. High levels of calcium and phosphorous increase the magnesium. Manganese iron, iodine. Sulfur and zinc requirements. Beef producers should also be aware that high levels of magnesium iron, or aluminum might interfere with the uptake of calcium and phosphorous from the small intestine.
·        Another important example of maintain adequate balance between minerals is the relationship between copper. Molybdenum, iron and sulfur. These minerals form complexes with one another in the body, reducing the amount of copper absorbed by the animal. Addition of molybdenum, iron or sulfur to diets that are already deficient in copper is of particular concern because these minerals will further exacerbate copper deficiency. It is recommended that the level of copper be at least twice as high as the molybdenum content.

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