Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Farm animal nutrition: Minerals

Minerals are inorganic compounds, which are left to the ashes after the tissue or the feed has been burned. In dog foods cans, for example, this is marked as "ash" (there is no ash added - it just means the inorganic material in the feed). There are 7 macrominerals and 15 microminerals which farm animals need to get from their feed. The animal needs over 100 mg/kg of macrominerals and less than 50 mg/kg of microminerals (trace elements) each day. In the body, minerals are used for building tissues, regulating the osmotic pressure and as catalysts. Deficiency of some minerals may be even lethal, as the important regulatory systems or metabolism fails.

For farm animals, the necessary macrominerals are C, P, K, Na, Cl, S, Mg.
Necessary trace elements / microminerals are Fe, Zn, Cu, Mb, Se, I, Mn, Co

The amount of minerals required by an animal is affected by its production level, health, amount of growth, meat quality, bone structure and feed digestability. Minerals should be in an available form in the feed. For example, phosphorus exists in plants as phytine acid, and phytase enzyme is required to sever the Ps from the acid. Pigs and poultry have no phytase enzyme in their bodies, so it must be added to the feed. Production level of the animal affects greatly to its need for minerals. Animals secrete a lot of calcium in milk and eggs, and thus need it constantly from their feed.

MineralUse in bodyDeficiency symptomsPoisoning symptoms
Ca
Calcium
Milk production, bone structure, muscle actions, blood clottingRickets, bone deformations, milk fever, reduced milk yieldCalcification of soft tissues, decreased absorbance of other minerals
P
Phosphorus
Bone structure, DNA, energy metabolismRickets, bone deformations, decreased fertility, pica (eating non-foods (soil, wood etc))N/A
Mg
Magnesium
Muscle functions, milk production, energy metabolism, nervous system grass tetany/grass staggers, nervousness, loss of weight, Calcification of soft tissuesDiarrhea, loss of appetite, rumen damage
K
Potassium
Milk production, pH balance, muscle and nervous tensionLoss of appetite, paralysis, matted fur, decreased milk yieldMilk fever, decreased absorption of Mg, mastitis
Na
Sodium
Osmotic tension, pH balance, muscle functionsLoss of appetite and milk yield, picaSwelling
Cl
Cloride
Osmotic tension, pH balance, formation of gastric acidDescrease in milk yieldSwelling, constipation
Fe
Iron
Haemoglobin, biochemical reactionsAnemiaDecreased growth, liver damage
I
Iodine
Essential for fertility, brain development and thyroid glandsDecreased fertility, enlarged thyroid glandHypothyroidism
Zn
Zinc
Cell division, appetiteLoss of appetite, decreased growth and fertility, skin problemsDecreased growth, pica, liver damage
Cu
Copper
Activates enzymes, bone development, growth, breeding, health of skin and furAnemia, decreased growth, bone deformations, colorless fur, liver damage, heart problemsLiver and muscle damage
Mn
Mangan
Essential for growth and fertilityBone deformations, decrease in fertilityDecreased growth and appetite
Co
Cobalt
Component of B12 vitaminAnemia, decreased appetiteN/A
Se
Selenium
ssential for growth and fertilityDecreased fertility, muscular dystrophyAnemia, bad fur quality, hoof problems
Cr
Chrome
Connected to stressThe amount of chrome in the liver deceases during stressN/A

More information

Salt and trace minerals by Salt Institute
The need for trace minerals by HVS Animal Health

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