Organic Trace Minerals Capitalize on Dairy Cattle Productivity

Published on Mon, 09/17/2018 - 1:12pm

 Organic Trace Minerals Capitalize on Dairy Cattle Productivity

 By Steve Weisman

 There is little doubt that the dairy industry is in constant change, and today’s dairy producer has critical decisions to make. The producer must think of the wellbeing of the animal along with how to maximize milk quality and at the same time, improve the profitability of the operation. The foundation for all of this is the nutritional plan that is implemented. Yet, this is where things become complicated, because there are lots of options out there. Ideally, the nutritional plan will take the herd past their average peak performance. But where does the producer turn and what plan should be followed?

For over 38 years, Alltech ( has been at the forefront of nutrition with the vision of sustaining and nourishing the world’s plants, animals and people. Dan Weiland, the U. S. Dairy Business Manager for Alltech, has been with Alltech for the past 19 years. “When Dr. Lyons started Alltech in 1980, he believed the plan must be good for the animal, good for the consumer and good for the environment. Although the industry has changed, the vision has remained the same. We are constantly asking the question, ‘How can we improve how we feed animals naturally and better?’”
Alltech’s nutritional technologies help animals maximize the nutrients in their feed for optimal well-being and performance. Alltech has also realized the importance of partnering with other companies who share the same vision.
One such partner is Hubbard Feeds (, which has been a part of the Alltech family since 2015. Headquartered in Mankato, MN, Hubbard Feeds, has a long history of providing research-based nutrition products and innovative support services. Like Alltech, Hubbard Feeds is driven to provide customers with products and answers that will improve their profitability, increase their competitive advantage, reduce their risk and simplify their lives.
Jon Pretz, Ph.D., a dairy nutritionist serving producers throughout the Midwest, has been with Hubbard Feeds for nearly three years. His professional interests include nutrition and management consulting regarding diet optimization, forage management, protocol development, transition cow management and product evaluation. He has conducted extensive research on strategies to increase forage quality and digestibility.

Much of Pretz’s recent work has been analyzing the increased productivity and performance through organic trace mineral nutrition. “Much of our success has come through our partnership with Alltech, along with both extensive university and farm research over the past decade.” According to Pretz, “Historically, nutritionists have supplemented dairy cattle rations with inorganic salts consisting of metals bound via ionic bonds to sulfates or oxides (copper sulfate, zinc sulfate, zinc oxide, etc.) to prevent mineral deficiencies and to support metabolism, growth, and reproduction.”
However, as the industry has evolved, the challenge has become how to better increase the herd’s productivity leading to greater profitability. Research has shown that the utilization of organic trace minerals can more readily capitalize on the animal’s genetic potential. Pretz notes, “Organic trace minerals consist of these same metals being chelated, complexed, or covalently bonded to amino acids, analogues of amino acids, proteins, or organic acids such that they tend to be more bioavailable in the intestine. In comparison, when inorganic minerals are supplemented, a portion of them breakdown readily in the rumen prior to the intestine. This causes these minerals to form indigestible compounds with other feed components and makes the initial mineral supplement partially unavailable for absorption and can potentially kill beneficial rumen microbes.”

What studies show
Studies have shown that there are four key characteristics of effective organic trace minerals:
Have high water solubility – allows materials to be absorbed
Remain stable throughout the digestion process – helps promote proper digestion
Enhance absorption – critical for increased productivity
Produce an economic response in the animal - Through performance increases in milk yield, reproduction, decreased somatic cell count, and improved hoof health; we can comfortably predict results beyond a 2:1 return on investment.
Studies have shown the following improvement potential with organic trace mineral nutrition:
• Increased milk yield
• Improved reproductive
• Decreased somatic cell count
• Decreased lameness
• Improved hoof health

Benefiting from Bioplex® and Sel-Plex®
Through the partnership between Alltech and Hubbard Feeds, producers can benefit from the organic trace minerals such as Bioplex® and Sel-Plex®.
According to Pretz, Bioplex® offers a range of trace minerals that provide mineral nutrition in a form as close to nature as possible. “Bioplex® minerals are trace minerals that are bound to amino acids and a range of peptides. They are easily absorbed and readily metabolized, optimizing animal performance. Bioplex® trace minerals (zinc, manganese, copper, iron and cobalt) are co-factors in enzymes critical to the animal’s defense system, growth, and reproduction.”
In addition, feeding dairy animals diets containing more available sources of trace minerals such as those provided by Bioplex® minerals is a key way to increase mineral availability for absorption and ultimately improve trace mineral status in the animal. It is important to note that responses to organic trace mineral nutrition are likely to be subtle improvements in health, performance and reproduction.

What Bioplex® can provide:
• Offers higher bioavailability than inorganic minerals.
• Reduces concerns about negative mineral interactions.
• Supports mineral retention and tissue reserves.
• Reinforces mineral status, which leads to optimal overall health, immune status and reproductive function in the animal.
• Is readily absorbed, stored and utilized by the animal.
• Is supported by more than 21 years of research.

Meanwhile, Sel-Plex® is supplied in a form that can be readily stored in tissues because of similarities between methionine and selenomethionine that are interchangeable during protein synthesis. Selenium plays an essential role in metabolism, orchestrating normal growth, supporting normal reproduction, neutralizing free radicals and supporting the body’s normal defense mechanisms against infection. Selenium allows animals to optimize health status during periods of increased demand.
Sel-Plex® is Alltech’s proprietary form of selenium-enriched yeast and is the first European Union-approved and only U.S. Food and Drug Administration-reviewed form of selenium-enriched yeast. Supported by more than 19 years of research, Sel-Plex is also the most proven form of selenium-enriched yeast.
Research shows that trace mineral nutrition is key to maintaining health and animal food product quality. According to Weiland, “The Alltech Q+ (Quality Plus) program, the mineral quality control program unique to Bioplex® and SelPlex® trace minerals, guarantees quality, safety and performance in every batch. When minerals come in, they are all tested to make sure that everything is pure and that there are no contaminants. Parameters are in place for products to meet Alltech’s standards.” As a result, Alltech Q+ sets the industry standard, enabling Alltech to offer a global quality guarantee to customers using trace minerals in more than 85 countries around the world.
For producers looking for more information, Pretz notes that Hubbard Feeds offers complete technical support. “First, producers can reach out to us by going to our website where they can put in their zip code and find the location of the nearest dealer or they can complete a form and email it to us so that we can get back to them with answers for their situation. I spend a lot of my time providing technical support, working with dealers and also individual producers to answer their questions. Our dairy specialists are also equipped with the most robust ration balancing software available which allows them to easily update rations with a total replacement of organic trace minerals in a matter of seconds, for all stages of a dairy animal’s life.”
Weiland reflects on what will come next. “We have made great strides. I think over the next five years you will see this process used even more in the industry. The vision that Dr. Lyons implemented years ago will continue. We will continue to look at new technologies that will positively redefine animal nutrition for the future.”