Trace mineral source may affect fiber digestibility

Research suggests supplementing dairy cattle diets with hydroxy trace minerals boosts NDF digestibility, improving productivity and profits.

An evaluation of trace mineral requirements suggests that supplementing the diets of dairy cows with hydroxy trace minerals can contribute to increased neutral detergent fiber (NDF) digestibility, which translates to improved animal productivity and producer profits.

The research findings were presented by Vita Plus dairy specialist Dr. Mat Faulkner during the recent 78th annual Cornell Nutrition Conference for Feed Manufacturers in East Syracuse, N.Y.

Working with researchers at the Ohio Agricultural Research & Development Center at The Ohio State University, Faulkner explored the effects of trace minerals on microbial populations in ruminant animals’ digestive processes. He said the findings suggest that hydroxy trace minerals may have more beneficial effects on microbial populations than sulfate-based trace minerals; specifically, they increase NDF digestibility.

Faulkner noted, “The value of a ruminant animal is that you can feed them lower-quality forages that they can derive energy from, and anywhere we can pick up some NDF digestion, we’re adding energy content to the diet.”

Dr. Scott Fry, director of technical sales support at Micronutrients, said, “There are numerous studies showing that NDF digestibility improves milk production, and this new research suggests that supplementing ... hydroxy trace minerals versus the sulfate-based trace minerals can potentially provide more milk production and add to producers’ bottom lines.”

The research also yielded some unexpected insights regarding how dietary fiber sources affect trace mineral absorption. The researchers examined the antagonistic effects on trace mineral absorption of a typical forage diet compared to a byproduct diet. Faulkner noted that, at the outset, the researchers expected that animals fed a byproduct diet would have inhibited trace mineral absorption compared to animals fed a typical forage diet. However, animals fed the forage diet actually experienced a few more antagonistic effects.

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