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46
JULY 2019
Animal Health Focus
www.irishfarmersmonthly.com
47
JULY 2019
www.irishfarmersmonthly.com
Animal Health Focus
sure that cows are going into grass covers of at least
1,300 kilograms of dry matter (DM), as lighter covers will
have much less fibre content.
In terms of management, there are several ways in
which we can help keep animals' rumens healthy,
including providing a balanced diet, minimising sorting
and providing a consistent diet. But overall, the most
important management factor that has the greatest
impact on rumen health is water. Water is one of the
best rumen bu ers available, as it dilutes down the acid
concentration. Make sure there is always an adequate
clean water supply -- an essential part of any animal
nutrition program.
Immunity
The animal's natural immune system is the ultimate
defence against all health issues it may face throughout
its life. Helping the animal to keep these defences as
strong as possible are key to keeping them healthy and
productive. For example, cows with a depressed immune
system are far more susceptible to mortellaro. Steps
we can take to help increase animals' immunity, at any
stage of their production cycle, include reducing stress
and providing an appropriate balanced diet, which also
includes their vitamin and mineral supply.
When animals are stressed, their immune system is
depressed, and they then become susceptible to picking
up disease. This is why it is important to try to reduce
as much stress on animals as possible. Things such as
mixing di erent groups of animals, rough handling and
insu cient water supply can all add to animal stress
levels.
Trace minerals play an important role in supporting animal
immunity. Minerals such as copper, zinc and selenium,
along with vitamin E, are key to a healthy immune system.
Even though animals are out at grass they may still
require these trace minerals, as they are often lacking on
many farms. Compounding this problem is also the fact
that many farms across Ireland are high in antagonists
such as molybdenum, iron and aluminium, which lock
up these trace minerals, making them unavailable to
animals. The levels of all of these trace minerals, along
with how they all interact, can vary greatly within areas
and soil types, and therefore can have di erent e ects
on grazing animals. It is recommended to take a forage
sample, whether it's grass or silage, and get it tested for
trace mineral content. This can be valuable information
that has a direct e ect on animal performance and is
often the cause of many issues on-farm. For example,
dull or brown coats on animals may be a sign that animals
are lacking some important nutrient and therefore not
meeting their full potential. Supplementing animals with
these important trace minerals may be beneficial in
helping to boost their immune system or performance.
It is important to note that the quality of these trace
mineral supplements is just as important as quantity.
Using organic forms of these trace minerals will be better
at counteracting antagonists such as molybdenum, iron,
aluminium and lead. They are also better absorbed by the
animal, meaning they will have a far greater benefit.
Overall, the proper balance of protein, energy, vitamins,
minerals and feed additives in diets is needed to make a
successful nutrition program that is both productive and
economical. In saying this, even the best nutrition advice
and products require appropriate management in order
to have highly productive and healthy animals. InTouch
nutritionists work closely with their customers and their
advisors, in order to implement these best practise
principles and unique tailored nutrition programmes on-
farm.
The stomach (rumen) of any ruminant animal works
like their engine, converting the fuel (feed) into
performance (milk or meat), and keeping it working
e ciently is key to driving animal performance.
KEY POINTS
Getting animal nutrition correct is the most e ective preventative measure
any farmer can take to reduce animal health issues and increase animal
performance.
Proper nutrition practices can help to boost animal immunity, reduce the
incidence of disease, and reduce metabolic issues, such as those that occur
around any transition period or acidosis.
Acidosis severely impacts animal performance and health and a ects every
type of production system but can be easily prevented.
Water is the most important nutrient on-farm and is often overlooked.
Trace mineral samples from forage or blood are useful in determining
potential animal requirements.