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Compensating for a livestock vitamin shortage

One option for ensuring animals have adequate supplies

Last spring with the worldwide vitamins A, D and E shortage, our management practices had to change. The choice was either find a way to feed more or find injectable somewhere. This winter due to widespread feed shortages many producers are already wondering how to boost nutrition in the feeds they do have this winter.

To address A,D&E shortages most producers ensure they are feeding a loose mineral with the vitamins added. These vitamins are fat soluble and stored in the liver for about three months. It is recommended to inject them again in the spring. However, if that is not an option, feeding in a concentrated form is effective. As a rule of thumb the levels of stored nutrition can be lower than normal if the feed fits in any of these categories:

  • Bleached pasture or drought-grown hay
  • “Heated” or caramelized forage
  • High-concentrate, low-forage diets
  • Weathered forages (excess sunlight, moisture or heat)
  • Harvested crop residues (straw, chaff)
  • Feeds subjected to prolonged storage

Over the past few winter-feeding seasons, we have worked with a supplier, A1 Liquid Feeds of Beausejour, Man., on a bale-dressing program. This wasn’t because we were feeding low-quality hay; it was to ensure a constant flow of nutrition to the livestock. We are not opposed to injecting AD&E, but that option was not available. The A1 Liquid Feeds product has been a huge help for us. The addition of Alert Agri’s Sea90 essential elements, fed free choice, has ensured that the livestock have quite a smorgasbord to source from. We place the loose minerals and Sea90 near the automatic water trough in order to entice them to come for fresh water daily.

Application

When the shortage of AD&E happened last spring many companies decreased the amount in mineral products in order to keep prices down. That is why feeding the liquid on hay bales or in lick tanks is good insurance. Using it as a bale dressing is also safer than as a lick because the animals get all the needed roughage to utilize the nutrition. This product is also a protein booster so for those feeding straw this winter it would be a great tool.

For our farm, the bales are placed on end and a five-gallon pail of syrup is poured over the end. The bales are left for a bit of time so that the syrup runs through the bales and then they are fed. A1 Liquid Feeds has a service that comes to farms to apply bale dressing to hundreds of bales at a time or fills tanks for the producer to use as needed. The product also feeds the microbes in the guts of the ruminant and allows them to better digest their forage.

The only option that is available for sheep would be the use of solid lick tubs with added AD&E if needed come spring. The liquid feeds have added copper so they are not an option for sheep producers. More products are being developed, as the larger the Canadian sheep flock becomes the faster the products will become available.

Watching a great many producers struggle through haying and harvest this year with abounding grace was a sight to see. The nutritional tools are there for us to use to get a great calf crop. On the bright side the ground is pretty dry and really could take a lot of moisture this spring before we get mucky!

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