Why and how supplements benefit your livestock

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livestock supplementslivestock supplements


Why and how supplements benefit your livestock

It’s no secret that livestock farmers are concerned about the wellness of their, well, livestock. But should they be going so far as to give them supplements? The answer is yes. If you want them to be strong, healthy and resilient, then you need to feed them supplements.

You need to remember that supplements are additional sources of vitamins, minerals and nutrients to make sure the daily dietary requirements are met.


Nutritional content and benefits livestock get from supplements

There are a variety of nutrients and different supplement additives you can choose from to add to your basic feed. Through these supplements, you can increase your livestock’s intake of the listed nutrients and experience their respective benefits:

  • Calcium and phosphorus: These two minerals are concerned about the skeletal health of your animals. Skeleton, bones and teeth will be stronger and healthier with the addition of supplements with these nutrients. Calcium is also good for the immune system and phosphorous for energy and the function of their metabolism.
  • Magnesium: With a lack of magnesium, your livestock runs the risk of decreased levels of milk production and increased tendencies to stress. Your cattle will also experience grass tetany if there isn’t enough magnesium absorbed in the system.
  • Selenium: You don’t want your livestock to suffer from a selenium deficiency and the solution lies, simply, in selenium supplements. It’s this nutrient that helps with normal growth, fertility and prevention of health issues in calves.
  • Vitamins A, D and E: It’s these vitamins that help metabolise the minerals previously mentioned. So, it's clear why they need to be supplemented into the diet alongside the other supplements.


Other forms of supplements

So, those are your usual dietary supplements for livestock. Two other, rather unusual but proving effective, supplements are kelp and Himalayan rock salt.

Kelp is useful if you want to build the immunity of your livestock, reduce their stress levels (especially in calves at weaning), encourage healthy weight gain, improve the quality of the meat and even acts as a probiotic which is good for the colon. Kelp is rich in a variety of nutrients. Including all of the abovementioned nutrients (excluding selenium) as well as fibre, copper, sodium, iron, manganese, vitamin K, zinc and more.

And Himalayan rock salt is beneficial regarding sodium-potassium and pH balance, increased milk production and it acts as a digestive aid for livestock feed. It is pumped with minerals and nutritious elements. If you think about it, you wouldn’t eat your food without a little bit of salt-seasoning, so why should your livestock? Especially when there will be positive effects on their overall health.


How to administer supplements to your livestock

The best way to integrate supplements into the livestock diet is to mix it in with their usual feed wherever possible. Find yourself a feed mixer for sale in South Africa and use it to shred and mix the combined supplements and feed to be equally distributed amongst the livestock. You need to understand that animals aren’t stupid and they know when a little something extra is trying to be fed to them. Which is why you need an efficient feed mixer that will “hide” the supplements in the feed.

Another option is a “lick” supplement, but you aren’t guaranteed that the entire herd will be drawn to it or that the livestock will get the amount of protein, vitamins or minerals their diet requires. And you could even spread supplements over the grazing pastures, but there’s even less guarantee with this method than the lick-block.

At the end of the day, you know your livestock the best and you know their feeding routines. You will find the best way to administer the necessary supplements based on this insight.


Situations that require supplements in livestock diet

Across South Africa, livestock farmers are exposed to a variety of elements that have a negative effect on their animals. And while some farmers may not be into using supplements strictly for their animals, there are certain situations (that are out of our control) where supplements are required to keep the livestock alive and viable assets to the farm.

For example, we’ll talk about the drought currently plaguing the Western Cape. During a drought season, feed becomes more expensive, pastures are no longer there or as rich in nutrients as they should be and livestock is more susceptible to illness. In the event of a drought, it is in the farmer and livestock’s best interest to add supplements to the diet to ensure they receive enough food and nutrients to keep them strong, healthy and resilient to the elements.

If you follow feeding quantities for a feed and supplement ratio, you should be able to witness the positive effects they have on your livestock. You’ll never want to go back to plain old feed and neither will your animals.

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