Vitus Mineral Lick
Most farmers supplement their animals with various major and trace elements through many mechanisms. These supplements are to take the place of elements that are lacking in pasture so as to get the best animal health and growth rates when the animals are in mineral deficit. Defining the deficits has been achieved through various means, such as blood tests, liver biopsy and herbage analysis. All of these tests have value, yet the herbage test probably has the most in the sense that the animal is the result of whatever it is eating. Mineral deficits in the feed results in mineral deficits in the animal.
All farmers understand the cause of some of the common metabolic disorders. Grass staggers for instance is due to lack of magnesium. Not all farmers are aware of the fact that excess plant available potassium makes these problems worse. You will see most maize silage crops are supplemented with additives such as fine lime and salt to make up for the mineral deficits in the silage.
To combat these problems an understanding of mineral ratios and their effect on animal nutrition is very important. Common practice in countries that house their animals for winter is to test all the feeds, calculate any deficit and add the missing ingredients. Here in New Zealand this is a little different as to test each paddock before we put the stock in and calculate the deficiency and make up a mineral supplement is near on impossible and very costly.
There are predictable similarities in seasonal pasture mineral content on most farms in New Zealand. The winter periods are the time when it is most important to get the mineral balance correct for optimum health for the upcoming new born lambs or calves. Usually, because of our grass dominated pasture swards we have a deficit of calcium, magnesium, sodium and an excess of potassium. Other factors that have not been taken into account are the benefits of minerals such as silica which is essential in nerve and bone construction and the necessity of all the minor trace minerals and rare earth minerals that are present in the ocean for physical and genetic well being. These are the building blocks of our ongoing production and reproduction and our animals need the best mineral nutrition to realise their genetic potential.
Supplying such a wide variety of minerals in one hit is like taking a sawn off shotgun and hoping for the best, yet experience tells us that there are general trends in pasture composition and mineral availability over the winter and early spring period with predictable results. Any substance that is created in the ocean holds minerals and trace minerals in natures intended balance so mineral antagonisms are avoided.
With this in mind Probitas Systems NZ Ltd has formulated Vitus which is a combination of Dolomite (23% Calcium and 11% Magnesium) Redmond Salt or Dominion salt (Ocean) that contains Sodium and over 70 other elements) Amorphous Silica (ocean) and Kelp meal (ocean).
This certainly can not be taken as the be all and end all of mineral supplements as there will still be problems such as copper deficiency which will have to be looked at on a farm by farm basis and amended with a mineral programme and addressing pasture species diversity.
The main purpose of Vitus is to cover as many bases as possible in one easy to use mix. Farmers put the product in a container in the paddock with the stock. They will take what they require under their own steam. Certainly when you start on Vitus it is quite common for animals to gorge themselves, as they strive to balance their systems then they tend to ease to lower levels as they do. In this way the animals get to regulate their own requirements, which vary throughout the season.
Observations on the effectiveness of Vitus here.