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5 minute read

Four Reasons to Feed Performance Trace Minerals in Antibiotic-Free Animal Production

Jersey cows eating at the feed bunk
Dr. Chris Ashworth

Global RNS Species Leader – Beef
Zinpro Corporation

The use of antibiotics in animal production has changed considerably in the last decade, mainly due to consumer market demand for meat raised without antibiotics. Today, between 52 and 55 percent of poultry production is raised without any antibiotics ever, meaning the birds never receive antibiotics throughout their lives.

The use of antibiotics in animals was predominantly designed to treat ongoing illnesses, but there was also evidence that a very limited number of antibiotics increased weight gain and production in animals.

Producers managing antibiotic free production systems can still increase animal productivity by providing optimum, balanced nutrition in their livestock and poultry diets. When fed as part of an overall nutrition program, Zinpro Performance Minerals® can help build the foundation for long-term animal performance and wellness in your operation, regardless of whether or not your operation is antibiotic free. Here are four key reasons to feed performance trace minerals, particularly when managing an antibiotic-free animal production system:

1. Support a More Robust Initial Immune Response

We know that antibiotics in animals have been used, predominantly, to help prevent and treat ongoing illnesses. One way to help improve animal wellness and performance in the absence of antibiotics is to supplement livestock and poultry diets with trace minerals.

Zinpro trace mineral research has shown that feeding performance trace minerals can help support a more robust initial immune response to potential disease challenges. Selenium, copper and zinc, in particular, each play a very important role in how white blood cells control disease-causing bacteria. Trace mineral research conducted by Kidd et al. (1994) showed that E. coli cleared faster from the blood of 3-week-old turkeys when the diet was supplemented with 40 parts per million of zinc from Availa®Zn.

2. Meeting Basic Nutritional Requirements

Animals, just like humans, have a basic requirement for macro minerals and trace minerals. Supplementing animal rations with trace minerals from Zinpro Performance Minerals® can help ensure the animals are consuming the trace minerals they need to meet their daily nutritional requirements.

3. High-Performing Animals Have Greater Needs

Livestock and poultry genetics have profoundly impacted the production potential of animals. Twenty years ago, feedlot steers were gaining two pounds (0.9 kg) per day, but today we have feedlot steers gaining three or four pounds (1.3 to 1.8 kg) per day. These animals are putting down more tissue and, as a result, need additional minerals in their diet.

Animals that are producing higher-than-average levels of meat, milk or eggs require higher inclusions or more metabolically available forms of trace minerals in their nutrition plan to achieve the genetic potential of the animal. Zinpro Performance Minerals utilize a unique pathway for absorption, which results in a higher delivery of trace minerals to all organs, tissues and enzyme systems within the animal.

While average milk production on a particular herd may be 80 pounds (36 kg) per cow, there may also be cows within that same herd that are producing 130 to 140 pounds (59 to 63 kg) of milk. Those animals have a higher trace mineral requirement than the average animal in the herd.

Boosting the immune response and overall function allows broiler breeders to pass immunity on to, and to produce, more chicks. Breeders fed zinc from Availa-Zn containing 80 parts per million of zinc (Hudson et al., 2004) or Availa®ZMC containing 40 ppm, 40 ppm and 7 ppm of zinc, manganese and copper respectively (Favero et al., 2013), produced 2.1 or 2.8 more chicks per hen housed on average compared to those fed the same levels of trace minerals from sulfate sources.

4. Better Response to Vaccination

Vaccination is a key tool in antibiotic-free production systems because vaccines boost antibody titers against viruses and other pathogens. A healthy, non-diseased animal that is being supplemented with appropriate levels of trace minerals will respond better to vaccines as compared to an animal that was also healthy but had low mineral status.

Trace mineral research conducted by Khajarern et al. (2002) showed an increase in antibody titer formation against infectious bronchitis, Gumboro’s disease and infectious bursal disease when broiler breeders nutrition plans included 40 parts per million each of zinc and manganese from Availa®Z/M.

Improving Animal Wellness and Performance

Including Zinpro Performance Minerals in your animal nutrition program helps support a more robust initial response and quicker recovery during immune challenges. Supplementing livestock and poultry diets with performance trace minerals helps provide your animals with the trace minerals they need, resulting in improved animal performance, wellness and operation profitability. It’s important to note that research consistently shows an improvement in animal wellness and performance from feeding Zinpro Performance Minerals, regardless of whether your livestock or poultry operation is antibiotic free.

To learn more about how performance trace minerals can help improve animal wellness and performance in your antibiotic-free animal production system, read the Unlocking Solutions to Chronic Inflammation white paper published by Zinpro.