Thanks to advances in research in breeding and nutrition, New Zealand livestock farmers have an overwhelming number of choices for feeding and supplementation of their animals. The diversity of terrain in New Zealand allows for varied livestock to thrive in a farmed situation. From cattle and goats for dairy, pigs, sheep, cows, goats and deer for meat to llama, alpaca, angora and sheep for fibre, there is a herd for every landscape.
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With the abundance of information out there, you are always presented with “new” and “improved” methods and products. The bottom line, while economy enters the equation, balances delicately on the health and well-being of the individual herd and their thriving over time and in all conditions.
You have staggering variables based on requirements for optimum health.
• What are your grazing patterns, lactation requirements and environmental factors?
• Are you raising meat, dairy or fibre?
• What are the current regulations and recommendations regarding waste and gases produced by herds?
There are more and more decisions all the time.
Many of the nutrients needed in animal supplements have proven to be critical to healthy deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA).
Increasing research points to the importance of this double-helix foundation of life. It is present in every cell and has to adapt and respond to every environmental and physical variable an organism experiences. This foundational building-block, when supported with nutrition, hydration and essential vitamins and minerals, provides a resilient immune system and a strong constitution for livestock.
New Zealand is a relatively new land with areas of rich, volcanic soils which can support lush plant life. Other areas are more suited to sheep and goats. For centuries, farmers could rely on all the nutrients needed to be present in the soil, available to the plants upon which the animals grazed. Macro and micro nutrients were bio-available and easily ingested… when conditions were optimum.
Volcanic soils are rich, but an ash layer can cause a deficiency in some nutrients. Even though there were more available nutrients present, they still had to contend with low levels of rainfall to the point of drought, excess rainfall which leached nutrients in runoff, which could change the profitability year to year.
Even now, when farmers are conscientious in the application of fertilisers and irrigation, the best, most efficient method of ensuring ingestion of required vitamins and minerals is to add them to the supplemental feeds.
The minerals required for healthy stock are defined as Macro nutrients and Micro nutrients, depending on the amount needed. There have been numerous supplements developed by large, corporate agribusinesses. They can seem economical at first glance, but upon closer scrutiny, are you getting complete, usable, digestible, absorbable forms of the nutrients? Are they present in the correct percentages? How are the products developed and manufactured? How are they broken down and returned to the ecosystem?
Some of these macro nutrients will sound very familiar as we all need them to thrive. Bone-building, metabolism-enhancing, muscle toning, vigour-generating minerals are needed, and needed consistently in quantity. The first one of these is Calcium which is used in the formation and maintenance of bones and teeth. It also functions in transmission of nerve impulses and contraction of muscle tissue.
Optimal availability involves calcium, phosphorus and vitamin D working together to maintain a relatively stable concentration of calcium in the blood. Calcium and phosphorus are stored in bone and mobilized into the circulatory system when dietary intake of the two minerals is adequate. Measurement of calcium in the blood is not a good indicator of dietary intake of this critical mineral as it includes amounts that have come from the bones as well. As mentioned, Phosphorous is the second macro nutrient.
Phosphorus works in conjunction with calcium in the formation of bone. In addition, phosphorus is a component of deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA), the molecules that make up chromosomes and control genetic inheritance. Phosphorus is also involved in the chemical reactions of energy metabolism. Phosphorus-containing compounds are the body’s major storage depots of readily available energy.
Worldwide, phosphorus deficiency is reported to be the most prevalent mineral insufficiency in grazing livestock. A lack of phosphorus results in decreased animal performance, including reduced weight gains, poor reproductive efficiency, and low milk production. When these nutrients are out of balance, dangerous health conditions can occur. When supplementing for nutrients, these two are considered in conjunction with each other to maintain that balance.
To find out more about all the macro nutrients and micro nutrients needed, ask us for a copy of the book we have written, condensing decades of knowledge into one easy but detailed read.
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