The Role of Trace Minerals in Beef Cattle Fertility

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Published on: December 27, 2017

Ratzburg, Cole, The Role of Trace Minerals in Beef Cattle Fertility, M.S., Department of Animal Science, August 2017.

The most important economic factor influenced by trace mineral deficiencies is impaired reproductive performance in both the male and female. Copper (Cu), zinc (Zn), and manganese (Mn) have been shown to improve fertility in male and female beef cattle due to their roles in vitamin synthesis, hormone production, enzyme activity, collagen formation, tissue synthesis, oxygen transport, energy production, and other physiological processes related to growth, reproduction, and health. A new form of trace minerals called hydroxy minerals, which is a hydrolyzed inorganic metal complex, has been shown to have a greater bioavailability than sulfate minerals and similar bioavailability compared with the organic trace minerals. The idea that hydroxy trace minerals could be more available to beef cattle led us to hypothesize that use of hydroxy forms of Cu, Zn, and Mn could improve fertility in male and female beef cattle that are transitioning into the pubertal phase. The objectives of the two studies were to determine whether the use of hydroxy trace minerals could improve fertility parameters related to both the male and female beef cow. Peripubertal bulls were supplemented with hydroxy forms of Cu or Zn or Cu and Zn or no Cu and Zn in an 83-day mineral trial to determine whether there were differences in liver, blood plasma, and semen mineral concentrations and subsequently breeding soundness exam parameters, sperm morphology, and flow cytometer analysis. Results showed the use of Cu and Zn had benefits for fertility; there was improvements in flow cytometer parameters and sperm morphology. Heifers were supplemented with sulfate and hydroxy forms of Cu, Zn, and Mn to determine whether the different forms of trace minerals could affect feed intake parameters such as average daily gain, dry matter intake, residual feed intake, and feed-to-gain ratio and the fertility parameters: percent cycling and percent conception. Results indicated that there were no differences in feed intake parameters between treatments, but there was a positive benefit observed with the hydroxy trace minerals on conception percentage.


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