Farmers have begun increasingly using seaweed as a source of valuable minerals for cattle. As humans we have been long taking them and heralding the benefits, but what are the benefits of feeding fish oil minerals to cattle?
Firstly, Feeding fish oil supplements ensure your cattle have a high natural source of omega 3 in their diet. This is a polyunsaturated fatty acid, while it offers a source of EPA/DHA. These acids are essential for normal biological functions in cattle. For animals to get the full benefits of omega 3 oils, it is vital it comes from fish oils and not from plant-derived oils, such as linseed.
Studies have found that using the supplement, drastically increases the quantity of omega 3 in grass-fed beef, therefore helping us as well. This means, it can help protect humans who then eat this beef, from conditions such as sepsis, inflammatory bowel disease, and even rheumatoid arthritis.
The supplement is generally given predominantly to dairy cows, with it known to help improve practices for a number of reasons. Fish oil supplements are a good way to get vital vitamins to your animals. Depending on the type of fish the supplement is made from, it can contain vitamins such as A, E and D. The best time of year to provide fish oils, is during the winter, as cows simply don’t need it during summer months spent grazing daily.
These benefits include:
- Improved fertility and reproductive performance.
- Improved embryo survival rates
- Improved sperm quality and quantity
- Reduces calving intervals
- Offers a ready source of EPA/DHA
- Helps increase milk production
- Improves animals overall health.
- It acts as an anti-inflammatory
- It enhances the immune systems of animals.
One potential drawback of feeding fish oil is the disruption it can cause to rumen function. This can reduce forage intake, and therefore can lower milks butterfat content. Studies have proven that giving over 100gs per cow per day can cause reductions in butterfat levels, as well as having a small effect on protein levels in milk. This though, can be avoided through providing careful doses of the fish oil supplement to feeds.
Other problems include cattle's varying, fussy taste buds. Some cattle will love the fish oil additives, while others simply won’t. The same way that some love seaweed, while others don’t enjoy it as much.
It comes in the form of a powder, which can be easily dispersed and mixed with feed. Supplements made from fish oils are only a relatively new concept, having being first hypothesised and its benefits seriously studied in 2000. If they do offer this many benefits, then why aren’t we all using them? If we can feel the benefits ourselves, why not our cattle?