Trace Element Status for Animal Health | Hill Laboratories - NZ

Trace Element Status for Animal Health

Trace Element Status for Animal Health

Date: 13 Aug 2020
Author: Hill Laboratories

The focus of animal nutrition at this time of year is often around calcium and magnesium due to the potential risk of metabolic disorders after calving and lambing. However, it is important to pay attention to the trace element status of livestock as well. The key essential trace elements for livestock health are Cobalt, Copper, Iodine, Zinc and Selenium. These elements have different functions in the animal, and deficiencies can cause reduced growth rates, lower milk production and can affect reproduction. As the name implies, these elements are only needed in small amounts.

Trace element status may be even more important at times when there is a “feed pinch” as pastures and feeds with marginal levels may in reality be deficient if feed allowances are low. Animal testing is usually the most reliable tool to monitor trace elements, but pasture and feed testing will enable decisions on supplementation at different times of the year.

Hill Laboratories offers a wide range of Pasture & Feed Test options to suit all needs. Recommended tests are either the Mixed Pasture Profile (MPast) or the more comprehensive Extended Feed Profile (ExtFed). Adding an Iodine test is also useful, and becomes an even more important consideration where the livestock diet is high in goitregens e.g. brassica or white clover, which affects the metabolism of Iodine in the animal.

Tests and DIY Sampling kits with full instructions on how to sample are available to order online, however Hill Laboratories encourages the use of animal nutritionists or other trusted advisors to fully benefit from pasture testing. Interpretation can be dependent on a number of factors such as temperature, moisture, soil fertility, plant growth stage and botanical composition. The laboratory provides results as a histogram report to be used as a general guideline for either plant nutrition or animal health for each nutrient, whichever requirement is highest. 

Additionally, Hill Laboratories has a report format known as the Animal Dietary Mineral Balance (ADMB) report - designed to provide an assessment of the mineral content of herbage, and how well it supplies the animal’s daily requirements according to livestock class and dry matter intake. An extract of a drystock pasture test report histogram and ADMB is shown below.

Drystock Pasture Test Histogram Report

Drystock Pasture Test ADMB Report