While turnout is welcomed by many producers, there’s a word of caution from Provimi ruminant nutritionist Philip Ingram.
Cows at grass have access to with mineral buckets
which ensures they protect their mineral,
vitamin and antioxidant status.
“Grazing management and the required supplementation have progressed recently with research showing a big variation in the levels of minerals and trace elements in different grass varieties,” says Dr Ingram. “And the genetic improvement of grasses has increased this variability. Higher digestibility of grass often goes along with faster growth, which is good news. But the pitfall is that this can also reduce the mineral status of the grass.”
The amount of minerals and trace elements present in the grass depends on the soil type, fertilisation and botanical composition of the pasture. “The season, weather conditions and growth stage of the grass plays an important role,” adds Dr Ingram. “But while mineral levels may drop, fresh grass has higher levels of vitamins than winter forage. For example, grazed grass typically has twice as much vitamin E compared with grass silage and four times as much as maize silage. Supplementation of this expensive vitamin may not be required at the same level as in winter rations, but, to maintain antioxidant levels for optimum animal health, it may be more beneficial to consider a combination with other products.”
Provimi has carried out extensive trials that show that vitamin E can be partially replaced with NuShield – a powerful combination of naturally-occurring antioxidants. Combined with selenium and vitamin E, NuShield provides a perfect combination of antioxidants that have been shown to increase the immunity in cows. Trials show that the antioxidant status of the blood – a good indicator of animal health – can actually be higher in animals given low levels of vitamin E with NuShield than animals given a very high vitamin E. The supply of selenium – a trace element also important for animal health – is also enhanced when using the rumen-bypass selenium, SelTek.
“A deficiency in mineral and trace elements can lead to a loss of production, reduced fertility and health problems so maintaining antioxidant status remains a key point of attention, particularly for high producing dairy cows and breeding animals. It is important not to decrease or stop the supplementation of vitamins and minerals during the grazing period.
“Adding a farm mineral pack to buffer feeds is a good way of ensuring that animals get their daily mineral, vitamin and antioxidant requirements year round, particularly in summer. Mineral buckets are another easy and practical way of boosting mineral, vitamin and antioxidant status.
“Now is the time to make sure that grazed grass is properly balanced and dairy cows get off to a good start this summer. Grazed grass is cost-effective as long as performance doesn’t suffer.”
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