Critical Vitamins for Cattle

Vitamins for Cattle

There’s no question that vitamins A, D, and E are the critical vitamins needed in the rations for beef cattle.

Vitamin A plays a key role in maintaining the healthy maintenance of the eyes, skin, and the linings of the respiratory, digestive, and reproductive tracts.

It’s also essential for proper functioning of the kidneys, and normal development of bones, teeth, and nerve tissue.

Vitamin A comes from the carotene in green and yellow plants.

Vitamin D is critical to the health of bones and the digestive tract. Animals form vitamin D when they’re exposed to sunlight.

Green leafy forages and whole grains are sources of vitamin E. While an animal’s need for vitamin E is critical, it is not well understood. 

Although the specific physiological function of vitamin E is not exactly clear, its principal role may be as a chemical antioxidant to reduce the destruction of other vitamins and essential fatty acids both in the digestive tract and after their absorption.” 

In fact, vitamin E has shown effectiveness in treating white-muscle disease in calves.


While critical to the livestock diet, possible problems stemming from deficiencies in one or more of these three vitamins tend to happen infrequently. Supplementation may be helpful, but it is not always a silver bullet.

“Under normal feeding conditions, vitamin deficiencies rarely occur,” but in cases where deficiencies occur, it is most often with vitamin A.

Early signs of deficiencies in vitamin A are:-

  1. Night blindness
  2. Loss of appetite
  3. Rough hair coat
  4. Dull eyes
  5. Slowed gains and reduced feed efficiency.

Animals that are deficient can have lower fertility and reduced calving percentages.

Because the main source of vitamin A is the carotene found in green forage, deficiencies that do show up tend to occur in cattle on low-forage diets,

Deficiencies can also happen when cattle are grazing dormant pastures or eating hay that’s been stored for a long time.

High levels of nitrate or nitrite nitrogen in the ration or water have also been found to cause a vitamin A deficiency in cattle.

These compounds may have this effect by causing greater destruction of vitamin A and carotene in the digestive tract, decreasing their absorption and interfering with the conversion of carotene to vitamin A.

Because vitamin A is stored in the liver, symptoms of a deficient daily intake may not express themselves for a long period, it is therefore recommended that: –

  1. A vitamin-fortified mineral supplement should be fed to cattle’s all year-round.
  2. Supplement intake should also, be monitored to ensure modest consumption by the livestock.
  3. Overfeeding can be prevented by following the feeding rate on the label.
  4. Cattle consuming a diet of diverse, green forages year-round could potentially have little need for supplementation in some environments.

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