For every cattle, there is an optimal amount of feed required to maximize productivity. In order to get maximum productivity cattle feed should be rich in vitamins. Though vitamins are very essential for normal growth, productivity, and health but cattle need vitamins in small quantities.
Providing a balanced feed to the cattle with the right amount of vitamins improves the quality and quantity of products they give. Vitamin A, Vitamin D, and Vitamin E are the three important vitamins required in cattle feed. But that doesn’t mean they don’t need other Vitamins such as Vitamin K and B Vitamins. Bacterial presence in the rumen of cattle has an ability to synthesize Vitamin K and B Vitamins to meet the requirement so if cattle feed lacks these vitamins it won’t make much difference.
5 Vitamins that Cattle Needs
1. Vitamin A
Cattle need vitamin A to develop bones, normal vision, and maintain the health of epithelial tissues. This is one of the important vitamins for cattle’s normal growth but vitamin A is neither present in plants they eat nor do they synthesize it.
Moreover, green and yellow plants contain alpha-carotene, beta carotene, gamma carotene, and cryptoxanthin which are essential nutrients for animals. Carotene is broken down into vitamin A in an animal’s body. And this is how animals get vitamin A.
Vitamin A and beta carotene play a vital role in preventing diseases and maintaining the immune system. Though vitamin A is not supplied directly by plants but consuming plants help in maintaining the level of vitamin A in cattle’s body.
But some animals may lack vitamin A even after providing sufficient green and yellow plants. In such a case, you can buy vitamin A in dry or liquid form as a supplement or in mixed feeds.
The amount of Vitamin A that cattle needs depend upon the level of carotene in the feed, liver stores of vitamin A and length of the feeding period. So, depending upon the cattle’s body, the average amount of vitamin A stored in the liver is 70 to 90 percentages. And the remaining is deposited in fat and other organs.
Causes of Vitamin A deficiency
- Excess exposure to sunlight, air, and high temperature. This can destroy carotene which is an element in the formation of Vitamin A.
- A lower supply of corn can decrease the quantity of Vitamin A in the animal because it contains an appreciable amount of carotene.
- Vitamin A supplement becomes critical when the supply of forage is less because forage is also a good source of vitamin A precursors.
Symptoms of Vitamin A deficiency
- Vitamin A deficiency can reduce feed intake, rough hair coats, fluid accumulation in joints, and brisket.
- It can also slow skeletal growth, low conception rates, abortion, night blindness, diarrhea, and excessive tear production.
2. Vitamin D
Vitamin D is essential for calcium and phosphorus absorption, and normally born mineralization. Sunlight is an excellent source of vitamin D. The UV rays convert the compound present in the skin into vitamin D. So, Keeping animals outdoor or allowing them to gaze in the field is the best way to provide cattle with vitamin D.
But that doesn’t mean you should keep the cattle expose to sunlight for a long time because this can negatively impact the health of cattle. Young animals will need a greater amount of vitamin D than mature animals so allow them to stay outdoor depending upon age.
Cattle can also get vitamin D from the consumption of three to four pounds of sun-cured forages on daily basis. Vitamin D requirement in growing cattle is different from old cattle so it’s always better to take suggestions from veterinarians.
Causes of Vitamin D deficiency
- Not allowing cattle to graze in the open field.
- Limiting the time of exposure to the sun.
Symptoms of Vitamin D deficiency
- Animals with vitamin D deficiency can suffer from bone demineralization, decrease appetite, and weight loss.
- Vitamin D deficiency can cause irritability, anorexia, stiff joints, convulsions, brittle bones digestive problems, labored breathing, and weakness.
3. Vitamin E
Vitamin E and selenium are necessary for the proper development of muscle tissue. And vitamin E also serves as an antioxidant in an animal’s body and is essential in the formation of the membrane and muscular structure.
The requirement of vitamin E to animals depends upon the concentrations of antioxidants, sulphur-containing amino acids, and selenium in the diet. If the corn oil and soybean oil are in an animal’s diet then this can increase the concentration of vitamin E in the body.
Corn, barley, oats, wheat, cottonseed meal, and soybean are good sources of vitamin E. But some animals may suffer from vitamin E deficiency even after providing meals rich in vitamin E.
So to prevent the cattle from vitamin E deficiency, you may inject the calves with vitamin E or selenium after birth. Feeding pregnant animals with vitamin E supplements or selenium supplements can help in protecting young calves from vitamin E deficiency.
Causes of Vitamin E deficiency
- High-fat levels in the ration
- High drying temperature for feed
- Feed that has low in selenium or vitamin E
- Lengthy storage of feed
Symptoms of vitamin E deficiency
- Lack of vitamin E or selenium can result in nutritional muscular dystrophy which is known as white muscle disease.
- In older cattle lack of vitamin E can weaken the bones and bones may easily fracture.
4. Vitamin K
Vitamin K is produced by rumen bacteria to meet the requirement of cattle. This vitamin is necessary for the liver to produce prothrombin. A lower concentration of prothrombin in the blood lengthens blood clotting time causing internal bleeding. So, this condition can be overcome by vitamin K administration and removal of the mouldy feed.
5. B Vitamins
Rumen bacteria are also responsible for producing B-vitamins. This vitamin includes thiamin, biotin, riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid, pyridoxine, folic acid, and choline. Mother’s milk is a good source of B vitamins for the calf.
The above mentions are the essential vitamins for cattle that can be provided through feed or many produce by themselves. If you observe any symptoms in your cattle then, it’s always better to contact a veterinarian before giving them any extra supplements. You might know what vitamins your cattle are lacking but consulting with veterinarians will give you an idea about the exact amount of supplements or feed you need to provide them. Better not to make major changes in cattle’s diet without consulting the vet.