Key functions and deficiency signs of micro minerals

23rd Jul, 2020

In our previous article, we highlighted on the key functions and deficiency signs of macro-minerals. We now focus on micro-minerals.

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Micro-minerals also known as trace minerals, are minerals that are present at low levels in the body or are needed in smaller amounts in the animals’ diet. The trace minerals include cobalt, copper, fluorine, iodine, iron, manganese, molybdenum, selenium, chromium and zinc.

Cobalt is necessary for vitamin synthesis.

Symptoms of deficiency are poor appetite, anemia, weakness, decreased fertility, slow growth, reduced milk and wool production. There are number of disorders due to cobalt deficiency characterized by emaciation or wasting disease, pining, and anemia. Barley, grain, Lucerne and Sorghum are relatively high in cobalt.

Copper is needed for blood and hair production and also in the enzyme system.

The deficiency symptoms are non-specific and include: anemia, change in color of hair in cattle especially around the eyes, abnormal wool growth in sheep, muscular incoordination, weakness at birth and diarrhea. To prevent and control copper deficiency supplement livestock with salts rich in copper. The grass and fodder deficient in copper have yellow or burnt leaf tips and low rates of production. Some good sources of Copper are: Sunflower cake, Maize Stover, Coffee hulls Cotton seed meal, Barley straw and Wheat bran.

Fluorine is necessary for development of healthy teeth.

Iodine: is needed for the production of Thyroxin in the thyroid gland. Iodine deficiency symptoms include goiter at birth or after, retained after birth, hairlessness at birth, infected navels, dead or weak at birth. To prevent deficiency mix iodized table salt into the salt licks of the livestock.

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Iron is vital for production of heme which is a component of red blood cells and formation some enzyme. Deficiencies are mostly often found in young pigs and present as labored breathing, pale eyelids, ears and nose and fluid in the head and shoulders. To prevent a few drops of iron/ferrous sulphate or similar daily during the first 3-4 weeks. Iron injection at day 3 and day 21 after birth is the recommended method to prevent iron deficiency as well as salt licks containing iron.

Manganese is key for estrus (heat signs), ovulation, udder development, milk production, fetal development, growth and skeletal development.

The deficiency signs are abortions, delayed estrus, reduced ovulation, resorptions and poor growth. Supplementation is easily done with trace mineralized salts containing manganese. Rich sources of manganese include: wheat bran, Kikuyu grass, Rhodes grass, Napier grass, rice and its products and sweet potato vines.

Molybdenum is very important in ruminants to stimulate the action of rumen organisms and in poultry because it stimulates uric acid formation. Deficiencies have only been observed in poultry. When in high amounts, Molybdenum limit copper availability. Soybean cake, Rice bran, Lucerne, Wheat bran and Sunflower cake are good sources of Molybdenum.

Selenium plays a major role in vitamin E absorption and utilization.

Deficiency signs are: nutritional muscular dystrophy in lambs and calves, retained placenta in cows, pancreatic fibrosis in chicks, paralysis, poor growth and low fertility. Many areas in Kenya are known to have selenium deficiency of the soils. Care must be taken during supplementation as Selenium in large quantities is poisonous and causes the same problems as selenium deficiency. Sunflower cake, Lucerne, wheat grain and bran, sorghum grain and rice bran are good sources of Selenium.

Zinc promotes growth, wound healing and growth of hair, hoofs/claws and wool. Deficiency symptoms are poor growth, unhealthy looking hair, skin and wool, slow wound healing. This is more common in pigs on concrete floors. Pigs can be supplemented with Zinc mineralized salt. Fish meal, sugarcane forage, sunflower heads, banana stalks, maize bran are rich sources of Zinc.

ALSO READ: Minerals classification in animal nutrition

Good quality commercial mineral mixes are highly recommended to avoid micro minerals deficiency.

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