A leading animal health business is helping farmers tackle what it called the 'hidden issue' of a significant shortfall of vitamin E in UK cattle diets.

Agrimin said it had developed a new solution after research found 75% of dairy cows had a shortfall of vitamin E at some point in their production cycle. It found that in addition to the shortfall of vitamin E – which rises to as much as 97% in very early lactation dairy cows – 89% of UK grazed grass is deficient in selenium.

Both are crucial antioxidants that are critical for cattle health in periods of stress and Agrimin developed a new slow-release bolus range that helps cattle reach their full potential. The ESey BREEDER and ESey FINISHER boluses provide dairy cows and beef cattle with the recommended levels of vit E and selenium needed in periods of stress, such as transition and calving. They supply the animal’s full daily requirement of each for approximately 60 days.

For dairy cows, the ESey BREEDER bolus aims to improve recovery after calving, boosting milk production, colostrum quality, and productivity. The other bolus offers similar benefits to finishing beef cattle, optimising daily liveweight gain to hit target weights quicker and helping meat quality and redness.

Callum Harvey, technical manager at Agrimin, said: “These shortfalls in vit E and selenium are a bit of a hidden problem but they are hugely important to cow health. Research has shown that cows rarely get up to the recommended levels and this means both the cow and the calf aren’t fulfilling their maximum potential.

“For dairy and suckler cows an imbalance means she is slower to recover and get into milk production and the calf won’t be getting everything it needs from the colostrum, slowing its development too. In finishing cattle, an imbalance can reduce growth rates and so cattle will be slower to finish.

“We’ve developed an easy solution for farmers to help their cattle perform to the optimum level. By using the ESey bolus range, farmers can rest assured that their cattle are getting the recommended levels of vit E and selenium they need.”

The range contains a combination of vit E, selenium and grape extract and is intended for adult cattle on grass, or forage-based diets with a liveweight over 400 kg. The antioxidants in the bolus optimise the immune system in cattle and colostrum quality, accelerating calf development and reducing the incidence of scour. They also optimise liveweight gain and meat quality.

Callum added: “It can take 100 days for cows to restore vit E levels following pregnancy and that means they are not fully recovered and operating at their full potential.”

The bolus can be used at any time of year, but is designed for periods of stress, including transition, pre-calving, at calving or periods of heat stress too. Half of all antioxidant activity comes from vit E and the grape extract in the bolus multiplies this effect.

Callum concluded: “This is the first in a range of new products we plan to launch in the coming months and we are focussed on three key elements – resource efficiency, animal welfare and the environment."