Mineralization of Baby Calves

    I recently viewed a research paper entitled:  “Mineralization in newborn calves contributes to health, improves the antioxidant system and reduces bacterial infections.”  The abstract is available at  http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0882401017315164

    This study evaluated the benefits of an intramuscular mineral supplementation on  the health of dairy calves. Ten calves were divided into two groups — a control group and a test group.    On days 2 and 14 post-birth, the 5 animals in the test group were injected with 3 ml of a solution containing selenium, copper, potassium, magnesium and phosphorus.  Blood was collected from all animals on days 2, 10, 20 and 30 of life in order to analyze the antioxidant enzymes that affect the immune system.

   According to the researchers, mineral supplementation presented many beneficial effects including: an increase in the activity of antioxidant enzymes, improvement of immunity, lowered mortality, less incidence of diarrhea and anemia, and less need for the use of antibiotics,

    I thought this was an interesting study,  especially since it confirms what I have seen over the years in calves born to properly mineralized  dams. The study would have been better if it had compared blood levels of calves from highly mineralized dams to those on a less than adequate diet.  I hope no one uses this study to begin marketing trace mineral injection as a treatment for mineral deficiencies.   .

     As Dr. Wm Albrecht pointed out decades ago, it takes healthy soil to grow the healthy plants necessary for healthy animals and humans. It would be accurate to replace the word “healthy” with the words “highly mineralized.”  

     Unfortunately, confinement of animals and soil depletion necessitate some sort of supplementation of minerals.  Thus, feeding “ground up rocks” is a standard practice until soils and plants can become more mineralized.  Some livestock  owners feed a ‘one-bag-fits-all’ mineral mix. The smarter ones provide a variety of minerals so the animals can use their innate nutritional wisdom to balance their indicidual mineral needs.