It can be a struggle for beef cattle producers to maintain mineral status, especially for cattle on pasture, so many implement a trace mineral supplementation program. But research on newer trace mineral strategies, including injectables, has been inconsistent and incomplete.

In a set of recent studies, University of Illinois animal scientists studied the effects of the injectable trace mineral Multimin®90 on reproductive performance in beef heifers.

“We definitely have heard a lot of producers asking, ‘What about this product? Does it work?’ So, we started to do studies on it,” says Dan Shike, U of I Department of Animal Sciences associate professor.

In the first study, Shike and his research team injected heifers with Multimin®90 at a rate of 1 milliliter per 68 kilograms, 33 days prior to artificial insemination (AI). The heifers were from herds in Champaign, Simpson and Baylis.

“In those three herds, we had variable results,” Shike said. “In two of the herds, we had very good AI conception rates in our controls, so we were already doing well and did not see a response to the injectable. In the last herd, the controls were below where we would like to see. By giving the Multimin®90, there was an improvement in conception rates. In that particular case, it appeared that trace mineral was limiting.”

In the second study, Shike and his team injected Multimin®90 into heifers every 90 days from weaning to final pregnancy confirmation at variable rates according to age, body weight and label specifications.

In this case, the injections had no effect on reproductive performance, but selenium and copper status improved compared to animals that received only saline injections.

“In pregnancy, there are so many factors, but the result is either yes or no. In this particular study, the limiting factor was not trace mineral,” said Shike. “We had a tougher forage year, so all the heifers were a little lighter, thinner than expected. In this case, overall energy status was likely the most limiting.”

Even if it doesn’t make a huge difference in reproductive performance, Shike still sees value in the product because trace minerals play critical roles in overall cattle health and productivity. And ingestible trace mineral products, such as free-choice minerals in pasture-fed cattle, can be hit-or-miss.