Drought is influencing agricultural production across two-thirds of the United States and is predicted to be the worst in 50 years. Below are five factors to consider regarding trace mineral fortification decisions during drought challenges.
1. Increasing Diet Costs
There continues to be much speculation as to how big the 2012 U.S. corn and soybean crop will be and how high prices will escalate. However, one thing is for certain, feed prices in late 2012 and for most of 2013 will be much higher than previously seen. In addition, drought conditions can result in decreased bushel weights. For bushel weights below 50 to 52 lb, most practical nutritionists (likely more poultry than swine because swine have a “useful” hindgut) will decrease ME value of corn by 5-10 kcal/kg.
a. To help control feed costs, feed efficiency for all species needs to be optimized.ZinproPerformance Minerals® have consistently improved feed efficiency. On average feeding Zinpro zinc has increased feed efficiency by 4.05% in feedlot cattle and 2.13% in broilers. Feeding Zinpro copper improved feed conversion 1.78% in pigs.
2. Diet Quality
Due to limited forage supplies, more poor quality feeds, such as those high in nitrates, lignin, ash, and mycotoxins will be fed. Feeding Zinpro Minerals can help mitigate the negative effects of feeding poor quality forages.
a. Maintaining body condition and animal performance will be challenging due to the lower energy content as a result of high lignin and ash content in feeds and forages. In addition, maintaining body condition in grazing cattle can be further challenged under these conditions when combined with lower dry matter intake due to limited feed availability. This will also negatively impact weaned livestock going into the next production phase. Supplementing diets with a highly available source of cobalt can help ruminants close the energy gap as cobalt supplementation has been shown to improve fiber digestion.
b. Maintaining adequate trace mineral status is critical for optimizing immunity and reproduction. Meeting trace mineral needs of livestock may be difficult when feeding drought-stressed feeds. Trace minerals in high lignin feeds will be less available due to trace minerals associated with the increased plant fiber portion. Elevated iron content of feedstuffs due to increased soil contamination will reduce availability of trace minerals such as Zn, Mn and Cu. The effect of additional iron is magnified when feed is ensiled as the acids in silage will solubilize the iron, increasing its availability. To compensate for lower dietary intake and compromised availability of trace minerals in feedstuffs, the source of supplemental trace minerals is critical. The minerals supplied by Zinpro Minerals are in a form that is less susceptible to interaction with antagonists and thus animals consuming these complexed minerals are better able to meet their trace mineral needs.
c. Selected field samples tested by several allied industry companies in July indicate that the corn will be high in aflatoxins (and some fumonisins). Recent drought-stress corn from Texas also produced similar mycotoxin profiles. Due to aflatoxins in grains, higher levels will be concentrated in byproducts.
i. Poultry has a very low tolerance for aflatoxins that can cause weak capillary wall subsequently increasing the incidence of bruising/hemorrhages during processing. Supplementing Availa®Zn through the diet has shown to drastically decrease the incidence of bruising and hemorrhages. Aflatoxins can also interact with coccidia to make gut lesions more severe. While Availa-Zn is not a cure for coccidiosis, it can certainly influence epithelial tissue resulting in less severe lesions and faster healing processes. Researchers have also reported observations that high inorganic zinc levels in chicken feeds increase the aflatoxin production in the feed. Due to the form of zinc in Availa-Zn being very close to 100% complexed, it should prevent further in-feed aflatoxin increases.
d. With increased mycotoxin concentrations in feedstuffs, inclusion of binders in diets will increase. Some classes of mycotoxin sequestering agents may render some minerals and vitamins unavailable for absorption and metabolism. Therefore, providing a highly bioavailable source of trace minerals such as Zinpro Performance Minerals is further warranted.
3. Heat Stress
Droughts are also associated with lost production due to heat stress.
a. Heat stress in cattle is associated with increased standing time, greater potential for metabolic and rumen acidosis and respiratory alkalosis. All of these factors contribute to increased lameness expressed as sole hemorrhages, sole ulcers and heel fractures. Multiple research studies have shown that feeding Zinpro Performance Minerals decreases the incidence of claw lesions such sole ulcers, sole hemorrhages and white line lesions.
b. Heat stress affects gut integrity and disrupts normal function of the gut immune barrier. This can lead to different degrees of complications depending on the extent of heat stress. There is growing evidence to support the use of Zinpro Performance Minerals for improving intestinal strength and immunity.
c. During periods of high ambient temperatures, reproduction is at risk in both the male and female. Semen collected from bull during the hot summer months had improved fertility characteristics when bulls were fed Availa-4 compared to ordinary sulfates. For females, feeding Zinpro Zn, Mn, Cu and Co has been shown to decrease the calving to conception interval, decrease services per conception, increase farrowing rates and increase percent of animals that conceive.
4. Water Quality
During drought, constituents in water can change due to dwindling aquifer volumes as well as evaporation. This is a potential problem in the case of concentrated TDS, sulfur, manganese and iron. Research evaluating water quality for growing beef steers illustrated that TDS levels concentrated in reservoir water sources impacted water consumption, gain performance, liver copper stores and also resulted in polioencephalomalacia symptoms. Including trace minerals that are less susceptible to interactions with antagonists, such as those found in Zinpro Performance Minerals, can help livestock attain and maintain trace mineral status.
The immune response can be impacted during drought through different mechanisms; diet quality, presence of mycotoxins, limited dry matter intake and heat stress. When trace mineral status declines, the first biological function compromised is immunity. The dynamics of immunity is sensitive to small shifts in trace mineral balance. Once immunecompetency is lowered, subsequent effects are lowered production. Nutrients partitioned to support an activated immune response are no longer available to support growth, m lactation, reproduction or other production parameters. Zinpro Performance Minerals consistently influence immunity for all species. Drought-associated stress will influence the magnitude of response observed between Zinpro Performance Minerals and other ordinary trace mineral sources.