August 2010
Feeding Facts

Feeding Facts

I recently had the opportunity to travel to Novus International, Inc. headquarters in St. Charles, MO. Novus is a research and development company dedicated to the goal to differentiate their products and company with the science they apply to understand how and why their products deliver value. Novus has a team of over 50 nutritionist, biologist, chemist and veterinarians. They conduct over 150 animal research trails per year, across animal species, around the world. They conduct research in conjunction with over 30 universities and have over 30 patents on products invaluable to animal performance. The main areas of research are in amino acids, mineral chelates and toxin binders. While at Novus, I had the opportunity to tour research facilities as well as participating in several seminars designed to help us better understand beef cattle nutrition and the role Novus plays in this very important industry.

I have written several articles and talked at several producer meetings on the importance of trace minerals in the overall efficiency and productivity of beef cattle. I feel very strongly that trace mineral supplementation is vital in reproduction, immunity and overall efficiency in the beef cattle industry. The following information comes from material presented on my recent trip that I believe will provide you with some valuable information on mineral supplementation and utilization. The information contained in this article is directly from research and material at Novus International, Inc.

What are minerals?

Minerals are defined as solid, crystalline substances with a definite chemical composition. Minerals come from the earth as both metal and non-metallic elements. They must be utilized as natural elements of nature. There are seven macro and ten micro minerals required for animal life.

Why are minerals important?

Every system in the body is dependent upon minerals to function properly. The immune, reproductive, hormonal, digestive, nervous and skeletal systems are all affected by minerals. There are deficiencies of minerals in common feedstuffs. The only way for animals to receive sufficient minerals for optimum production is through mineral supplementation.

What types of minerals are available for supplementation?

Elemental minerals have been used for years; salt or sodium chloride being the most common. Copper sulfate and zinc sulfate are other examples and have been popular options over the years. These types of compounds, however, do not meet the mineral requirements of today’s animals. Bioavailability of elemental minerals range from three to 60 percent.

What is a chelated mineral?

A mineral is chelated in a chemical reaction where an elemental mineral is combined with an amino acid. Glycine is used for optimum chelation because it is a very small molecule. Additionally, glycine is not susceptible to rumen degradation or ingestion by rumen bacteria. Glycine and an element (zinc, cooper) create a stable molecule absorbed in the small intestine. This process makes it nearly 100 percent bioavailable to the animal.

How are minerals absorbed into the body?

Elemental and chelated minerals are absorbed by the body differently. Elemental minerals are absorbed in the first part of the small intestine where the environment is very acidic. Chelates are absorbed later in the intestines. They are carried across the intestinal walls as amino acids (building blocks of proteins). As a result, chelates are absorbed up to six times more than their inorganic mineral counterparts.

Should I only use chelated minerals for my supplementation needs?

Use both chelated and elemental minerals to complete your supplementation program. Take advantage of the differences in absorption sites to best meet your animal’s nutritional requirements.

Why can’t I just feed more elemental minerals to address deficiencies?

Adding additional elemental minerals can cause significant antagonistic activities. For example, if you add to much copper sulfate to the diet it can result in copper toxicity issues or decrease rumen bacterial populations. With the formation of an electrically-neutral chelated mineral, antagonism does not occur.

This is a quick overview on chelated minerals and why you should consider their use in your mineral program. I am confident, if you use chelated minerals, you will see a difference in performance over elemental minerals alone. I would also highly recommend evaluating your current mineral program to determine its performance and cost.

Another seminar I attended while at Novus had to do with the feeding of commodities. Several nutritionist from cattle feedyards located in Texas, Ohio, Nebraska, Kansas and New Mexico expressed their concerns in the performance of cattle being fed high quantities of corn gluten and/or distiller grains. I realize several producers in Alabama utilize these two products due to the inexpensive cost; we are starting to get more and more feedback on the two products. These two products contain very high levels of sulfur and are having a detrimental affect on calves once they hit the feedyard. Novus is continuing to do research on these two ingredients and I will keep you informed on what comes from this very important research. As I have mentioned in the past, commodities is just a by-product ingredient and when used in amounts greater than 25 percent of the diet, they can cause side effects in your cattle. If you are getting recommendations on feeding individual commodities like gluten or distillers at a level higher than 25 percent of the total diet, I would carefully reconsider my feeding program.

As always, if I can be of any assistance to you, contact me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.">This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call me at (256) 947-7886.

Jimmy Hughes is AFC’s animal nutritionist. If you would like to contact him, please feel free to call at (256) 947-7886 or e-mail This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.">This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. He looks forward to hearing from you or visiting with you in the future.