There are other processes in the animal’s body that are dependent on the correct balance of minerals and vitamins, which can either promote or adversely affect health and efficiency.
According to Alheit du Toit, professional livestock expert at Feedtek Animal Feed Solutions in Cradock in the Eastern Cape, a properly functioning rumen remains a key facet to bear in mind when formulating winter licks for livestock; however, this is only one part of the process. Most of the body’s functions and processes cannot proceed if the minerals and vitamins ingested are insufficient.
“In terms of minerals and vitamins in winter licks, it is more appropriate to refer to licks for the dry season than winter licks, as the Western Cape’s dry season does not signify winter. The primary focus during the dry season is the efficient utilisation of dry roughage. Strategic supplementation of minerals and vitamins is essential for optimal rumen functioning, and should put the animal in the best possible position to produce and reproduce.”
Efficient rumen function
When discussing licks for the dry season, he says, there is a misconception that protein, especially non-protein nitrogen, and to a lesser extent energy, are the only critical elements to consider. “Yet the truth is that minerals that are not balanced properly, will hamper the rumen microbes’ ability to best utilise other nutrients such as protein and energy.
“The rumen microbes utilise nitrogen to produce microbial proteins, which then become available to the animal. However, to optimise the process, sulphur, in relation to nitrogen, is needed. Sulphur-containing amino acids such as methionine and cysteine can now be manufactured.”
Nevertheless, the processes of microbial protein synthesis and fibre fermentation require energy. Phosphorus and magnesium are the most important minerals when it comes to energy metabolism. Phosphorus is a component of adenosine triphosphate (ATP), the energy-carrying molecule, and magnesium together with phosphorus are needed for optimal energy utilisation.
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