Ruminant Nutrition: Vitamins and Minerals Recap
By: Brooke Smith
Everyday life for our livestock species can present stress, especially during times of transition or movement. During these periods, animals can experience a “perfect storm of stress”, as so eloquently stated by Erin Deters, a speaker during this session. This stress includes increased inflammation and oxidative stress responses, both of which contribute to decreased growth performance and health status which in turn confer additional cost to producers. One way to approach managing these periods of stress and increase performance is through nutrition, but what if effective nutritional interventions happen to be through some of the smallest components of common livestock diets? This investigation of utilizing vitamin and mineral supplementations as a means to promote health and productivity was a common theme among this seminar and two of those talks are highlighted below.
Erin L. Deters - Effects of supplemental vitamin E in feedlot receiving diets on steer performance and immune function: Erin Deters from Iowa State University described a study where they evaluated using supplemental vitamin E to promote both growth performance and immune function in feedlot steers. Vitamin E is a liquid-soluble antioxidant that plays role in cell membrane free radical scavenging and activation of T-cells during the adaptive immune response. Within this study, steers received no supplemental vitamin E, 25 IU/kg DM, 500 IU/kg DM, or 1,000 IU/kg DM vitamin E. While increasing levels of vitamin E in the diet increased peripheral vitamin E status, it had no effect on overall growth performance. Increasing supplemental vitamin E levels did improve the Type I antibody response to vaccine regimen, suggesting it may help promote adaptive immunity during times of stress.
Katherine VanValin – Supplemental copper concentration and feed restriction influence plasma metabolome of growing beef steers: Katherine VanValin from Iowa State University described a study where they evaluated using supplemental copper in conjunction with feed restriction and how it affects the plasma metabolome of growing beef steers. During finishing phases of beef production, average daily feed intake can decrease due to stress, which limits intake of vital nutrients like copper. Copper (Cu), like vitamin E, has antioxidant properties and involved in the immune response, but is also plays functional roles in lipid metabolism. Steers were fed either no supplemental Cu or 10 mg/kg DM under ad-libitum or restricted feed intakes. Based on metabolome results, while there no interactions between Cu supplementation level and feeding strategies, steers fed no supplemental Cu were in fact deficient at the time of testing. Supplemental Cu did increase phenylalanine levels, which VanValin suggested may be due to interactions by Cu during phenylalanine metabolism. More research is required in this area to fully understand this impact on the bovine plasma metabolome.
The general take away message from this seminar is that vitamin and mineral nutritional interventions do impact cellular reactions and metabolism, but the scope of their applications still requires much more research. Regardless, both of these talks demonstrate that nutrition continues to be an important tool for managing modern livestock production and health.