New trials explore impact of latest developments in trace mineral science

by Liu, J Produce Manager - Livestock Nutrition at Virbac Australia
26 Nov 2018
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A group of AVA-member veterinarians are currently helping producers with a series of trials focusing on the effects of injectable trace minerals on Australian sheep and cattle. Supported by animal health company Virbac Australia, the trials are designed to further producer knowledge of the impact of optimal levels of trace minerals on an animal’s immune and reproductive functions.

With injectable trace mineral science being an important field of research, the veterinary team has joined forces with Virbac Australia to advance understanding of the impact of trace minerals on animal health and productivity. Trace minerals like copper, selenium, zinc and manganese are essential for a number of physiological processes, including the synthesis of glutathione peroxidase and superoxide dismutase. Yet primary or secondary deficiencies, even at the subclinical level can result in significant production losses. Traditional methods of trace mineral supplementation have relied on the oral route. However, variable feed intake, fluctuating demand cycles, inherently low trace mineral absorption coefficients and antagonists in feed and water can make achieving optimal trace mineral levels challenging.

Recent research in trace mineral science has found that a more precise method to ensure livestock receive the right amount of minerals at the right time could ensure significant production benefits. Injectable trace mineral supplements offer improved reliability and faster absorption, with the objective now shifting beyond merely correcting long term clinical deficiencies. Instead, these latest trials aim to investigate the impact of trace mineral injections on the measurable production outcomes of both the immune and reproductive systems of Australian livestock in a field setting.

The 12-month trial, named the Multimin Performance Ready Challenge, will focus on seven Australian farmers. They are mentored by a team of livestock vets who will use their experience and knowledge to design and implement research methodology to further the understanding of trace mineral science when applied on farm.

The team comprises some of Australia’s leading livestock vets and nutrition experts, including Drs Craig Dwyer, Enoch Bergman, Colin Trengove, Liz Bramley, Amanda Dunn, Susan Swaney, and Matthew Ball. Each has a particular interest in this field of study.

Dr Dwyer, partner at Smithton Veterinary Services completed his memberships in ruminant nutrition, and practices in a part of Australia notorious for trace mineral challenges. Dr Bergman, practices at Swans Veterinary Services in Esperance. With the region being significantly depleted in a wide range of minerals, he’s already sampled thousands of local animals to benchmark trace mineral status for targeted supplementation. Vet, Managing Director at Pro Ag Consulting, and University of Adelaide academic, Dr Trengove, conducts on-farm research, and provides whole farm nutrition services.

Dr Bramley is an ex-academic from Murdoch University and current owner of Cooinda Vet Hospital. She holds a PhD in ruminant nutrition and provides nutritional consultation. Dr Dunn practices at Katherine Veterinary Care Centre and works closely with both AQIS and Charles Darwin University. Virbac technical veterinarians, Dr Swaney and Dr Ball have both conducted extensive trace mineral research in Australia. Together, the team will assist the farmers to get the best outcomes for their production system as they monitor the performance results of this year-long trial.

Each farmer will use a multiple trace mineral injection (Multimin, Virbac Australia) under the guidance of their mentor. Some of the studies will replicate methods from international research, while others will be completely novel.

It’s hypothesised that the program will not only improve animal fertility and health, but also ultimately improve the producer’s financial bottom-line. For Dr Matthew Ball, the research should prove invaluable. “We live in a time when we should seek best practice and look for innovative ways to face some of the challenges we have in livestock,” said Dr Ball. “If farmers can recognise a period when their stock's nutritional demand is high and target those times, a balanced trace mineral injection should be able to help alleviate those pressures and boost long term productivity.”

Virbac’s Livestock Nutrition Product Manager Dr Jerry Liu agrees. “We’re confident that the results of these trials will support findings in existing literature, while also provide new data. We look forward to announcing the results after the trial’s conclusion next March.”

Follow the trials at www. multiminchallenge.com

For technical information and existing peer reviewed research on Multimin, contact Virbac Customer Service on 1800 242 100.

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