Better late than never: The 360˚ benefit of third-trimester supplementation

By Ashley Grimsell and Cleopas Tlotlang Lephallo

Beef cows in their third trimester of gestation are your most prized possession. Not only have they achieved breeding success, but they will soon be rewarding you with your future income: calves. However, the veld is usually of a poor quality during this stage of gestation, limiting the nutrients the cow can obtain from this source; hence, supplementation is essential.

An unborn calf is heavily reliant on the cow to supply it with nutrients and little emphasis is placed on the trace mineral nutrition of dams during their third trimester, or the subsequent effects this may have on the calf. Several trace minerals play a role in the development of the unborn calf, and if not supplied in adequate quantities to the cow during this period, may lead to lifetime production losses for both the cow and calf. Availa® 4 from the Zinpro Performance Minerals® range is a nutritional feed ingredient that contains a combination of organic zinc, manganese and copper, and a unique source of cobalt. These trace minerals are required by both the cow and calf, especially during the third trimester.

Trace minerals come in different forms and should be metabolically available to the cow for her to successfully transfer them to her developing calf. Availa 4 is built on a unique, patented molecule that consists of one metal ion bound to one amino acid – called a metal amino acid complex – that allows the metal to be uniquely and efficiently absorbed through specific amino transporters in the gut. Once in circulation, Zinpro Performance Minerals® are metabolised differently from other metal sources, allowing the cow and calf to utilise the trace minerals more effectively and, therefore, driving performance.

The Availa® 4 return

Weight + health = profit

Research shows that calves born to cows fed Availa 4 during the third trimester attain heavier weaning weights, have a decreased likelihood to be treated for bovine respiratory disease (BRD), and produce heavier carcasses. This is likely due to improvements in foetal growth, which rapidly takes place during this trimester, and an immune system that is ready and effective in its response for both the cow and calf through improved colostrum. 

Sustained income over generations

This benefit is not only realised for animals finished off in a feedlot or on veld, but also for your future herd. Replacement stock will subsequently have improved reproductive performance due to the advantage granted in utero. In addition, cows will have an improved mineral status during the third trimester when fed Availa 4. Not only is this beneficial to the calf she will give birth to, but it will also enable her to successfully conceive again during the next breeding season.

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