Assessing Mineral Status of Dairy Cattle

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Proceedings of the Intermountain Nutrition Conference

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Many minerals have been proven in research studies to be essential for optimal growth, physiologic function and productivity in ruminants. Historically, testing for these minerals has been performed on diets or dietary components to ensure adequate concentrations of specific minerals in the diet. However, general mineral analysis does not identify the chemical forms of these minerals, which can dramatically alter their bioavailability and utilization.

Although not possible for some of the minerals, the most specific means of diagnosing a mineral deficiency is by testing animals for unique functional deficits or deficiencies of specific minerals containing proteins or enzymes. This type of testing is often impractical from a field perspective because of individual test costs or rigorous sample-handling requirements. But, when possible, this type of testing eliminates the need to know the specific molecular characteristics of a dietary mineral and the potential of competitive interactions with antagonistic minerals.

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