Pasture and fodder crops usually contain sufficient minerals and vitamins for normal ruminant production. Minerals and vitamins are generally not the first limiting factor that negatively impact on intake and performance. Dietary energy and protein must first be addressed and consumed in quantities appropriate for the class of stock being fed.
Calcium and sulphur are two of a handful of minerals and vitamins considered essential for normal rumen function and animal performance.
REGYP screened natural gypsum can be used as a stockfeed additive/supplement to provide calcium and sulphur in blends.
Sulfur (S), along with nitrogen, is essential for protein synthesis and growth of rumen microbes. In general, if dietary protein is adequate dietary sulfur is also likely to be adequate. However, if dietary protein deficiencies are overcome by the use of a non-protein nitrogen source alone (e.g. urea) sulfur can often become the factor most limiting rumen microbial growth.
Sulfur amino acids (SAA) are particularly important in sheep nutrition as wool comprises about 4% sulfur. Adding extra sulfur to the diet of sheep will not necessarily increase SAA supply for wool growth and for best response SAA should be fed directly to the animal in a form which will bypass breakdown in the rumen. Deficiency symptoms in sheep include reduced wool production, lack of crimp and poor fleece characteristics.
Calcium (Ca) is found in bones (about 99% of total body Ca), teeth and intracellular fluids, calcium is important for nerve function, muscle contraction, blood clotting, activation of a number of enzymes and bone formation. It is found in stems and leaves of herbage and is seldom deficient in soils. Availability does not decline with maturity of plant but deficiency can occur on acid or sandy soils when animals are grazing forage consisting of rapidly growing grasses or cereals or when grain supplementation is high.
Calcium deficiency can occur in stock grazing oat crops in winter but this is often best treated using vitamin D due to the interaction between Ca:P balance and vitamin D (see the section on Vitamins). This phenomenon may account for the commonly held belief that animals grazing cereal crops in winter will do better if fed hay since most sun-ripened hay is sufficiently high in vitamin D.
Deficiency symptoms include milk fever, lethargy, weak bones and (in concert with low vitamin D) poor growth.
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