Westside Enterprises


Trace Minerals and Udder Health

by dr. Noélle Steyn, Westside

Between 2009 and 2015 the Dutch have managed to decrease the use of antibiotics in the dairy sector with 47% (MARAN, 2012, 2016). Interestingly over the same period a reduction in the national average bulk tank somatic cell count (SCC) was also recorded. SCC is often used by veterinarians and farmers as a measure of udder health. Poor udder health affects SCC and milk yield and is correlated with the clinical incidence of mastitis within herds.

Mastitis, lameness, and fertility problems are conditions with a severe economical impact as they lead to poor production and reproduction, as well as increased management costs. These conditions generally require additional veterinary visits and are often treated with the help of antibiotics. With the ongoing pressure to reduce our usage of antibiotics, we should make use of other available resources to improve cow health and to reduce the incidence of these conditions.

Improved nutrition, hygiene, milking routine, management at calving and biosecurity all come to mind. However, for the purpose of this article we will focus on trace mineral nutrition only.

Trace Minerals

The value of supplying a good quality, highly available trace mineral shouldn’t be overlooked. Inclusion of Se, Mn, Cu and Zn, at the correct levels, is required to optimize health and production in lactating and periparturient cows. The transition period is a physiologically stressful time which affects the efficiency of the immune system, making cows more vulnerable to infections such as mastitis and metritis. Trace minerals are required to maintain proper immune function, mostly by acting as antioxidants. By reducing the amount of free radicals, antioxidants protect cells from damage. Free radicals are produced as part of normal physiological processes but production increases during times of increased metabolic demand, such as calving and peak lactation.

Selenium received much attention recently as a shift towards organic selenium yeast was seen in the market. Observed advantages of supplementing dairy cows with adequate organic selenium includes improved antioxidant status, reduction in occurrence and severity of mastitis and metritis cases, decreased udder oedema and fewer retained placentas.

The udder

If we want to prevent mastitis we should understand how the udder defence mechanisms work and what they require to function optimally. The first line of defence is the teat canal. The teat canal is lined by keratin which also has antibacterial properties. The teat canal can be thought of as a barrier to prevent bacteria from entering the udder. The second line of defence is the white blood cells (WBC), within the udder. WBCs remove bacteria by phagocytosis (ingesting bacteria) and killing bacteria inside the WBC. The amount of WBC and the ability of these cells to kill bacteria is influenced by trace mineral status.

Se, Cu and Zn

Selenium and vitamin E status will determine how many WBC reach the site of infection, in this case the mammary gland. Copper status then affects the number of bacteria that can be killed, through a process known as phagocytosis. Phagocytosis can be thought of as bacteria being eaten by WBCs, once inside the WBC a complex reaction takes place to kill the bacteria. During this killing reaction various enzymes, that require zinc and copper, remove harmful by-products, and convert them to less harmful products. Selenium is once again important in this final step where hydrogen peroxide, which can cause oxidative damage to cells, is converted to water. Zinc is also required to form the keratin lining in the teat canal. If we consider the function of these three elements within the udder, the importance of adequate trace mineral supplementation is evident.

The Abilities of IntelliBond

Westside has been the sole distributor of IntelliBond for the Southern African region since 2011 – first on behalf of Micronutrients and since 2016 on behalf of Nutreco. As the regional partner of this leading global nutritional group, Westside has become a trusted provider of innovative,  new generation feed additives supported by nutritional consultancy services.

IntelliBond,  hydroxy trace minerals, has been certified and proven itself as a leading source of new generation trace minerals. Its unique ability to only become soluble once in an environment with a lower pH (<4) contributes to its capability to remain stable in the digestive tract and be released gradually.  Nutritional animal scientists  and leading global institutions are in agreement, that IntelliBond trace minerals can play a measurable part in improving production animal performance.

The Best Source of Trace Minerals

Trace minerals such as copper, manganese and zinc play an indispensable role in the wellbeing and production– especially their fertility, growth and health. With this in mind, IntelliBond provides an optimal supply of these trace minerals for poultry, pigs, cattle and sheep. Given the critical role that copper, manganese and zinc play in the performance of high producing animals, it is noteworthy that IntelliBond only represents a fraction of the total cost of high-performance feed. At approximately 0,5% to 0,75% of the cost, it offers nutritional integrity as an animal feed supplement without compromise.

The Ability of Intellibond Hodroxy Trace Minerals

Far beyond what the eye can see, IntelliBond works wonders. Providing nutrition for animals seldom comes at such a comprehensive scope. Owing to its stable bonds, IntelliBond’s bioavailability, solubility and palatability ensure a healthy intake of hydroxy trace minerals. Yet, its benefits extend to more areas listed below.

Continued Bioavailability Once Ingested

IntelliBond, is less reactive as it passes through the rumen to the small intestine, making it more readily available than sulphates. However, the mineral requirements of the animal will dictate trace mineral absorption, to maintain homeostasis. In other words, during times of increased mineral requirement absorption will be upregulated., IntelliBond, remains available for absorption in the gastrointestinal tract as it does not bind to antagonists while passing through.

Improved Solubility

To ensure a more stable release of trace minerals in the gastrointestinal tract, IntelliBond is more soluble in a low pH environment. This makes IntelliBond superior to sulphates, as it avoids negative interactions with potential antogonists in the rumen as the hydroxy trace minerals have a low solubility in the rumen/ruminal content/fluid

Stability of Hydroxy Trace Minerals

As IntelliBond, having covalent bonds, is less hygroscopic than other sources of trace minerals with ionic bonds like Copper and Zinc sulphate, making Intellilbond more stable during storage and handling, as it is more resistant to clumping.

Palatability Increases Nutrition for Animals

Studies for poultry, beef and swine have proven that when feeding a variety of mineral sources, they preferred IntelliBond.

Traceability from Production to Purchase

IntelliBond undergoes a thorough quality cycle to ensure reliability and traceability. The process includes, but is not limited to, analysis, monitoring, testing, assessments and validation before the product’s positive release.

Increased Digestibility of Trace Minerals

One of the greatest benefits of stable hydroxy trace minerals is their ability to increase non-detergent fibre digestibility. Compared to Zinc, Copper and Manganese sulphates, IntelliBond has a higher rate of apparent organic matter disappearance from rumen samples.

Animal Feed Nutrition Beyond Expectation

The bio-efficacy of IntelliBond comes from its revolutionary chemistry. As such it provides a reliable and unique source of Copper, Zinc and Manganese to the animal feed industry. The article below explores the benefits of IntelliBond trace minerals on a molecular level. Read on to learn more about IntelliBond’s bioavailability, solubility, stability, palatability, traceability and digestibility.

Abilities of IntelliBond

IntelliBond® comprises of six characteristics which makes IntelliBond distinctively unique. These six abilities include bioavailability, solubility, stability, palatability, traceability and digestibility.

Fighting oxidative stress – the natural way

by Dr. Noélle Steyn and Dr. Heinri Spangenberg, Westside

All living organisms produce free radicals – unstable molecules that can cause damage to cells. Oxidative stress describes a state where the rate of free radical production within body tissues exceeds the ability of body systems to neutralize these free radicals. Free radicals are produced as part of normal physiological processes, but production of these free radicals increases during times of stress and high metabolic demand, such as fast growth, disease challenge, calving and peak lactation.

Normal cell respiration leads to the production of free radicals, of which superoxide radicals, hydroxyl radicals and hydrogen peroxide are the most familiar. These are also called reactive oxygen species. They play a role in immunity, cell differentiation, protein regulation and programmed cell death. Thus, radicals are necessary for optimal health, but an overproduction or accumulation of free radicals can lead to multiple diseases. Free radicals are reactive and unstable and can damage cell membranes, DNA, and proteins within the body, leading to impaired body functions, poor health, and reduced performance.

Free radicals are capable of existing independently and contain one or more unpaired electrons. Unpaired electrons make free radicals unstable as they tend to remove an electron – or donate their electron to another molecule or atom. This creates a chain reaction of electron donation or removal, resulting in more unstable and reactive molecules, with potential harmful effects to surrounding cells. This chain reaction can only be stopped by the body’s antioxidant systems.

Preventing oxidative stress

To prevent oxidative stress, free radicals must be neutralised. Firstly, the body makes use of various enzymes that can convert free radicals to harmless products like water and oxygen, glutathione peroxidase is an example of such an enzyme. Secondly, and what we will be focusing on, is antioxidants.

Antioxidants are molecules that can donate a hydrogen atom to a free radical, which then neutralises the free radical. Vitamin E, vitamin C, and glutathione (a selenium-containing enzyme) are probably the most familiar antioxidants. Using Vitamin E as an example, the molecule’s key feature is a hydroxyl group attached to a benzene ring. The electrons in the benzene ring are mobile, making it possible for the hydrogen in the hydroxyl group to be split off, to neutralise a free radical.

Limitations of Vit E

Vitamin E is an effective antioxidant that helps to delay aging and prevent disease. However, it has a relatively low bioavailability and is very expensive. The reported bioavailability of synthetic vitamin E is roughly 29% for swine and 15% for cattle. Being a fat-soluble vitamin, vitamin E absorption will depend on the absorption of fats from the diet. Low fat diets or poor fat digestion will decrease Vit E absorption. Lastly, studies have shown that the half-life of vitamin E decreases as the dosage increases. As a result, it becomes almost impossible to ensure a high enough level of antioxidants by using only vitamin E.

An alternative to Vitamin E

Using other antioxidants, like natural polyphenols, can deliver better results than Vitamin E alone. Polyphenols are plant compounds with high antioxidant potential and thus a beneficial solution to fight oxidative stress. However, they cannot replace the role of vitamin E in gene expression, neurological functions or as a regulator of enzyme activity. Therefore, polyphenols can only be used as partial replacement for vitamin E, to aid in the prevention of lipid oxidation and to act as antioxidants. By using a combination of antioxidants, these molecules act in synergy and boost antioxidant defences beyond the capabilities of vitamin E alone.

Some polyphenols have more hydroxy groups attached to their benzene rings per unit of weight than vitamin E, giving them a greater antioxidant potential. The reason for the higher antioxidative capacity of polyphenols compared to synthetic Vitamin E lies in the facts that polyphenols have more hydroxy groups than vitamin E (Figure 1), and that vitamin E has a long lipophilic tail with no antioxidant properties, further reducing its antioxidant capacity per unit, compared to selected polyphenols.

Solubility also affects antioxidant effectiveness. Fat-soluble vitamin E, for example, can only have an antioxidant effect at the level of the cell membrane, because cell membranes consist of phospholipids. Polyphenols can range from water-soluble to biphasic, meaning they are soluble in both water and fat, and as a result, they can have their effect throughout the entire cellular environment and not just at the cell membrane. Due to their high bioavailability and distribution characteristics, polyphenols provide support to the immune system, reproductive system, and antioxidant systems of developing embryos and offspring.

Polyphenols are carefully selected, taking into consideration the differences in water-solubility and fat-solubility, digestive physiology, radical affinity, and tissue distribution, to provide the antioxidant protection needed throughout the entire cell. This results in a multifaceted approach that offers broad protection against free radicals to improve animal health.

Read more about AOmix or contact Dr. Noélle Steyn for enquiries at noelle@westside.co.za

If It Doesn’t Say Intellibond, It Isn’t!

“When it comes down to it, we’re all human. We respond to being treated well. We reject what’s fake or dishonest, and we are drawn to authenticity. It seems so easy, yet for many brands, it’s difficult to accomplish.”
– Forbes

The Best Source of Hydroxy Trace Minerals

The innovative technology of hydroxy trace mineral’s introduction into Southern Africa starts with a global partnership. In 2011, Westside Enterprises met with Micronutrients USA, LLC (also known as Micronutrients) at a time of the development of a groundbreaking technology, namely hydroxy chloride trace minerals, called IntelliBond.

Seeing the potential of the new chemistry and production process, Westside secured the right of sole distributor in the Southern African markets. Since then, this relationship has grown from strength to strength, nearing the 10-year mark.

A Renewed Focus on Animal Nutrition

The benefits of IntelliBond reach beyond what’s visible as it first operates on a molecular level before showing physical results. That said, the focus always remains clear: to provide animal nutrition that is high in trace minerals, like Copper, Manganese and Zinc.

Behind IntelliBond Trace Minerals: A Partnership in Values

In 2015, SHV Holdings acquired Micronutrients to form part of Nutreco. Although the Dutch family-owned group employs over 50,000 people in 64 countries and has an annual turnover of €20bn, its core principles and “courage to care for generations to come” remain intact.

Among all the positive aspects of the partnership, integrity and trust are what Westside appreciates most. According to SHV Holdings, “integrity means being honest, genuine and totally open in communications about all matters which concern the company. Good news may travel slowly, [but] bad news should travel quickly. We trust our people to put their best effort into working for the company, its progress and achieving success within their capabilities and in line with our values.”

This is of particular significance as hydroxy trace minerals has been extensively researched, developed and validated by respected animal nutrition scientists and leading international institutions since the 1990s. As such, the production and use of IntelliBond align with SHV Holdings’ core ethical values. These guiding principles further underscore the authenticity of Intellibond as well as its reliability to deliver on its claims.

IntelliBond and the Benefits of Trace Minerals

The revolutionary chemistry of IntelliBond comes with numerous benefits, ranging from practical applications, like non-clumping, to stability and bio-efficacy. This article provides an overview of what makes IntelliBond such a unique, strong and dependable source of Copper, Manganese and Zinc in animal feed. It also draws attention to the indispensable role trace minerals play in the fertility, growth and health of animals.

Yet, providing minerals in the form of IntelliBond amounts to only approximately 0,75% of the cost of a high-performance feed. In the end, nutritional integrity is not worth compromising. Click the link below to find out more.

Trace minerals can provide protection against mastitis

by dr. Noélle Steyn, Westside

Over the past 40 years veterinarians, nutritionists and farmers have tried multiple strategies and programs with the aim to reduce clinical and subclinical cases of mastitis. In the 1960’s the 5-point Mastitis Control Program was developed in the United Kingdom by the, then called, National Institute for Research into Dairying (NIRD). In recent years technological development and advances in animal nutrition strategies led to adaptation of existing points and the addition of two new points to the program.

  1. The 7-point Mastitis Control Plan:
  2. Disinfection of all teats after each milking
  3. Treat all mastitis cases once the causative bacteria have been identified and record data
  4. Application of dry cow teat sealant to all cows, antimicrobial dry cow therapy only in selected cases
  5. Any cow with a history of three or more mastitis cases should be culled
  6. Milking machine maintenance remains extremely important
  7. Milk clean, dry and disinfected teats
  8. Make use of nutrition (such as trace minerals), stimulants and vaccines to improve immunity

For the purpose of this article, only trace minerals and their ability to provide protection against mastitis will be discussed.

Trace minerals received much attention in recent years as nutritionists realized the importance of various trace mineral forms. By studying the efficacy of these various forms, it is now clear that organic and hydroxy-trace minerals are superior to sulfate minerals, in their ability to provide absorbable minerals at the correct site within the gastrointestinal tract.

Importance of trace minerals in immunity

Inclusion of especially Selenium, Manganese, Copper and Zinc, at the correct levels, is required to optimize health and production in lactating and periparturient cows. The transition period is a physiologically stressful time which affects the efficiency of the immune system, making cows more vulnerable to infections from environmental bacteria. When there is an increased demand, trace mineral absorption from feed is often not sufficient to meet the requirements of the animal, therefore a highly available trace mineral should be supplemented at increased levels, to prevent deficiency. Trace minerals support proper immune function, not only by their role in antioxidant defense systems but also their direct effect on leukocyte (white blood cell) function and migration.

Copper status affects the number of bacteria that can be killed by white blood cells (WBCs), through a process known as phagocytosis. After phagocytosis by WBCs bacteria is killed and eliminated from the udder, thereby preventing bacterial infections from environmental pathogens. During this reaction various enzymes, that require zinc and copper, remove harmful by-products, and convert them to less harmful products. Selenium is once again important in this final step where hydrogen peroxide, which can cause oxidative damage to cells, is converted to water.

By reducing the amount of free radicals, antioxidants protect cells from damage and inflammation. Free radicals are produced as part of normal physiological processes but production of these free radicals increases during times of stress and high metabolic demand, such as calving and peak lactation.

Health benefits of Selenium

Selenium is most probably the most familiar antioxidant, along with Vitamin E. Various studies have shown a decrease in somatic cell count (SCC) of cows supplemented with organic selenium yeast (Figure 1). While this reduction may be explained by the improved antioxidant status, selenium status also influences how many neutrophils reach the udder in case of infection, to actively eliminate pathogens and prevent clinical mastitis. Some of the most recognised benefits of organic selenium supplementation in dairy cows is the lower incidence of retained fetal membranes and fewer mastitis and metritis cases. Cows supplemented with organic selenium also had a lower percentage of bacterially infected udders (Figure 2),

If we consider the function of Selenium in overall immunity and within the udder, the importance of trace mineral supplementation as part of the mastitis control program cannot be overlooked.

Figure 1: A reduction in SCC of up to 34% was observed in dairy cows receiving organic selenium yeast as an antioxidant supplementation.

Figure 2: improved udder health parameters in dairy cows supplemented with organic selenium yeast.

Read more about our Optimin Selenium, SeY3000 or contact Dr. Noélle Steyn at noelle@westside.co.za

Trace mineral source can impact feed efficiency, fibre digestibility and carbon footprint

By dr Heinri Spangenberg and dr Noélle Steyn, Westside

The impact of feed efficiency on farm performance is huge and a commonly used performance indicator in beef, swine and poultry. Surprisingly, it is less commonly used by dairy farmers. Increasing feed efficiency means more milk or meat is being produced from the same amount of feed. This will increase the income over feed costs and reduce the amount of greenhouse gasses per kg of milk or meat produced. Improving feed efficiency should be a high priority in any livestock production system. Feed efficiency is defined as the amount of dry matter consumed per kg live body gain, while in dairy cows it can be defined as kg of Energy Corrected Milk (ECM) per kg of dry matter consumed. Feed efficiency in lactating cows can vary from <1.3 to >2.0. There are several factors that have an impact on feed efficiency, such as production level, days in milk and level of rumen acidosis etc., but improving digestibility of feed can have a huge impact on feed efficiency.

The impact of livestock production on global warming is an area of debate and a hot topic around the world. Farmers are globally experiencing increased pressure from consumers to reduce their carbon footprint. Consumer – retailer – processor – farm – feed company and nutritionists are the flow of demand. Soon feed additives will have to follow a Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) to achieve an independent validation of its ability to reduce the animal’s carbon footprint per kg milk or meat. Improved feed efficiency is obviously the way to go to reduce carbon footprint.

Microbes in the rumen are very sensitive to disturbance, in which case a disbalance can occur, referred to as dysbiosis. Dysbiosis of the rumen flora results in poor digestibility of dietary fibre and a significant reduction of dairy cow and ruminant performance in general. Sulphate trace minerals are known to have an antimicrobial effect. The sulphate salts commonly used in dairy feed are highly soluble in the rumen, resulting in high peak concentrations of free metal ions with a negative effect on the rumen microbes. Just think about CuSO4 in a footbath to kill bacteria infecting the hoof. In contrast, the hydroxy forms of trace minerals in IntelliBond (IB) are largely insoluble at a pH of 4 or higher. The rumen pH of dairy cattle is typically between 6 and 6.5 and higher for extensive grazing animals, so hydroxy trace mineral crystals are essentially insoluble within the rumen. In the abomasum, where the pH is usually below 3, the crystals dissociate layer by layer, resulting in a gradual and sustained release of trace mineral ions into the duodenum. As a result, peak concentrations in the rumen always remain low and therefore, these specific trace minerals do not have a negative impact on fibre digestibility.

The effect of sulphate and IB trace mineral supplementation on NDF digestibility was studied extensively with different diets in dairy cows. The peer reviewed studies have proven that replacing sulphate trace minerals with IB hydroxy trace minerals will result in a significant improvement of fibre digestibility and that each one-point difference in NDF digestibility can represent 0.25 to 0.3 kg of daily ECM production. In a trial carried out by Cornell University, milk production was increased in early lactation cows fed IB trace minerals compared to cows fed sulphates. The IB group reached peak production sooner and produced 3.5 litres milk more at the peak of lactation. Dynamics of lactation persistency would indicate that 1 kg of extra milk at peak lactation is equal to 200 kg of milk per lactation. More recent studies also resulted in a significant increase in milk production and an increase in milk fat in cows fed IB trace minerals.

Animals have a thermoneutral zone, in which normal body temperature is maintained and energy expenditure is kept to a minimum. Factors such as temperature, ambient humidity and wind can influence an animal’s capability of staying within this range. When the total heat load on an animal exceeds its capacity for heat dissipation heat stress can be an unwelcome result. A reduction of feed intake and milk production and for that matter ADG in feedlots is a consequence of heat stress. After a while DMI is restored, but not production. Until a few years back the belief was that the extra energy from restored DMI is used by muscle, but in recent years it became evident that it is used to fight inflammation.

Beyond reducing the level of nutrients available for the animal to use, reduced feed intake can therefore harm gut integrity. Less feed intake can lead to leaky gut, which increases circulating bacterial components and can lead to systemic inflammation, inducing a further loss in performance. From a sustainability perspective, leaky gut can potentially increase the environmental impact of production. Thus, from an animal welfare and environmental point of view, heat stress can cause animals to suffer physically and result in a more of the energy consumed being wasted.

Nutritional interventions represent a practical and cost-effective opportunity to reduce the negative effects of heat stress and improve animal productivity. Precision nutrition allows diets to be formulated in a manner that reduces internal metabolic heat generation. Increasing the levels of dietary fat and reducing the amount of protein or fibre is one example of tailoring the formulation to reduce metabolic heat generation. Compared to other feed ingredients, dietary fat generates less heat. In contrast, the fermentation of fibre and excess protein are associated with heat generation. Feed additives that supply antioxidants, osmolytes or gut health should be considered to support animals subjected to heat stress. Selecting trace minerals that are more bioavailable could potentially ameliorate production losses as well.

Feed efficiency is an important driver of farm profitability. It is research proven that IntelliBond hydroxy trace minerals, compared to any other trace mineral source, improves fibre digestibility in ruminant diets with improved performance. The use of IntelliBond Zn, Cu and Mn in dairy cattle was recently validated via an independent, ISO compliant review process to reduce the carbon footprint by up to 2.0% per kilogram (kg) of ECM, while optimizing cow productivity and well-being at very little or no incremental cost to the farm.

Find out more about IntelliBond or contact Dr. Heinri Spangenberg at heinri@westside.co.za