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Needle versus throat in livestock supplementation

Virginia Tapp, Thursday June 12, 2014 - 16:12 EST
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Molasses based supplement on a cattle station north of Julia Creek, Queensland. - ABC

Feeding minerals and vitamins to livestock has become common practice among graziers in recent years, but the way in which supplements are administered is changing.

Producers have now started injecting supplements and many in the industry are questioning whether it's better to inject or feed supplement orally.

Willie Smith is the developer of an injectable mineral supplement and also specialises in ruminant nutrition.

He explains why injecting supplements can be advantageous in cattle production.

"When a supplement is fed, most of it passes through the system, because the digestive tract is less efficient at absorbing minerals, but when it is injected, the animal is able to utilise the full dose.

"In field trials in North West Queensland, weaners treated with injectable minerals gained 15 to 45 kilograms more than those that were untreated."

The developer of a molasses based supplement says administering supplement orally is less stressful for livestock.

Wes Klett explains it's also less labour intensive to feed minerals.

"While injecting is very good during critical times, you still have to muster those cattle, you still have to run them through a crush in order to give them that injection and any time you handle cattle, that's an added cost and a loss of performance, because you stress the animal.

"Everybody tries to fix a problem with a needle, but consistent, daily intake of nutrition, is the way that it was meant to be."


© ABC 2014

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