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Should feedlot cattle be fed B vitamins?

In a recent poll, about two-thirds of the participants were positive about feeding at least some B vitamins in feedlot cattle.

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Violka08 | Dreamstime.com

Two-thirds of poll respondents thought positively about this practice

In a recent poll I conducted on LinkedIn, I asked whether feedlot cattle should receive B vitamins along with their ration. Half the participants said yes, the other half of the participants were split in two schools of thoughts. One said no, but they would be willing to learn more, while the other said definitely not. Seen from another perspective, about two-thirds of the participants were positive about feeding at least some B vitamins in feedlot cattle.

Why the poll? I am designing a new beef product that is aimed at feedlots that have mixed breeds and ages grouped together. In the process, I consulted my trusty NRC for beef for an update and, under B vitamins, it said that beef, like all ruminants, do not require any of the B vitamins. This is well and nice and goes along with what we learned at graduate school.

But, under a different chapter, one that deals about feeding under stressful conditions, there was a plethora of references to benefits from feeding specific B vitamins to beef cattle for one or another reason, showing that B vitamins have a place in modern beef cattle nutrition.

Why modern? Because there are no beef cattle that are raised without being imposed under at least one stressful condition. And if you think that free-range cattle are all happy and content, let me remind you of the recent freezing winter in the U.S and how these cattle fared. So, yes, stress is part of life – just like in humans – and quite often cannot be avoided. If some vitamins can help, then we should have a discussion about it.

In closing, I must bring to our attention the improvements in performance seen when beef cattle consume dead yeast with metabolites – and today there are more than one such products in the market. Some believe it is these B vitamins that dead yeast offers to the rumen microbiota. And there is an additional school of thought that supports the notion that this is part of the role of feeding live yeast to beef cattle.

What an interesting interaction and what a nice topic for research and reading.

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