Vitamin Importance for Reproduction

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Published on: July 6, 2018

by Cole Ratzburg
AETA Education Committee
B.S. M.S. Reproductive Physiology

Hopefully everyone is having a good summer and getting plenty of rain. Since I had an article on trace minerals a couple issues ago I figured I would write an article on the importance of vitamins for reproduction. All though the effect vitamins have on reproduction aren’t as well known as trace minerals, they still have an important role in positively affecting reproduction in cattle. Essentially vitamins can be broken down into water soluble and fat-soluble forms. The fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K are more important for cattle due to their availability in the diet. Fat soluble vitamins do not need to be supplemented daily and can be supplied via mineral programs or in an injectable form.

Vitamin D is important for calcium, phosphorus metabolism, and bone growth but due to cows being able to synthesize vitamin D from sunlight it is not as critical to supplement in the long daylight hours. During the winter months with short daylight hours and depending on the forage available, cows may need more vitamin D. Vitamin A deals with vision, reproduction, and immune function. Levels fluctuate based on their availability in feed throughout the year. Vitamin A’s main role is to maintain the epithelial tissue found in areas like the lining of the reproductive tract. Vitamin A is available in ample amounts in the spring and summer months through green leafy forages. Cattle coming off the summer grass typically have a 2-3-month storage of vitamin A. The amount of vitamin A in the forage can fluctuate based on the quality of the forage and how it was processed.

I think the biggest effect that vitamin deficiencies have on embryo production is during the fall and winter months. Any flushes/transfers that occur in the winter and fall time may need cows to have good supplementation of vitamins A and D due to their limited availability.

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