Trace minerals (TM) play an important role in cattle immunity, health and performance. Although TM are needed in small quantities, they are fundamental for enzymes involved in antioxidant protection against cellular damage and several pathways of the immune response. Cattle TM status results from the balance between TM dietary intake and their requirements. This paper reviews the research-based evidence of the effects of TM supplementation on immunity and its impact on beef cattle health.
Free-choice oral TM supplementation is a common practice in beef cattle production systems. However, there is a high variation in TM intake and thus TM status and bioavailability in animals receiving free-choice oral TM supplements. Strategic pulse-dose supplementation during critical points of beef cattle management provides a controlled amount of TM intended to remove such a variation. Adequate TM supplementation should not only satisfy the basal requirements but also provide a source of TM when there is a higher demand of the antioxidant systems or during the development of the immune response.
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