Virbac UK Veterinary

Trace Minerals and Vaccination

Trace minerals have long been reported to be important for optimal immune function in livestock1.Trace minerals are essential for livestock to mount an immune response to a vaccine and thus derive protection.

Supplementation of trace minerals has been identifi ed as having a positive effect on immune function2. For example, Selenium defi ciency is associated with reduced B-cell response and antibody production3 , cattle fed copper defi cient diets show a signifi cant reduction in B-cell numbers4 and zinc is essential for B- cell function and antibody production 5,6.

Stressors on calves such as vaccination, weaning, and transport can exacerbate trace mineral imbalances which could lead to reduced response to vaccines7 .

In a 2012 study, Arthington and Havenga8 demonstrated how vaccination altered the trace mineral status of cattle. Beef steers were vaccinated and blood samples were taken on D0 immediately before vaccination and D14 after vaccination. By D14, cattle experienced decreased serum trace mineral concentrations in response to vaccination.

Even in adequate trace mineral status, mounting an immune response to a vaccine can deplete trace mineral stores, meaning vaccinated cattle may not achieve effective inoculation or response to a booster8.

In recent years, trials from leading US universities have shown that strategic trace mineral supplementation at vaccination could help enhance bovine  immune response to vaccination.

Indeed Arthington and Havenga8 found that compared to controls, animals treated with a four in one trace mineral injection at the time of vaccination had signifi cantly greater neutralizing antibody titres against BHV-1 on days 14, 30, and 60 post vaccination. See Fig 1.

Supplementation of trace minerals has been identifi ed as having a positive effect on immune function 2 ..

large animal graph 8.PNG

In 2016, Roberts et al demonstrated calves that were supplemented at the time of vaccination had an increase (P = 0.02) in BVDV-specific antibody titre on D14 compared to calves that were vaccinated but not supplemented. This indicates that the BVDV-specifi c antibody response to the vaccine increased earlier with supplementation. See Fig 2.

large animal graph 9.PNG

large animal graph 10.PNG

Arthington et al 201410, treated heifers with an injectable trace mineral supplement or saline to assess their response to a novel immunogen, Porcine Red Blood Cells, which would not be considered a normally occurring antigen in cattle production systems. A heightened humoral immune response, was noted by increased PRBC titres in injectable trace mineral supplemented heifers compared to the control group. See Fig 3.

These findings indicate that injectable trace minerals may be beneficial to humoral immune response in cattle. Good nutritional trace mineral supplementation is essential for livestock but several studies highlight the benefits of strategic injectable trace mineral supplementation with vaccination.

1. Underwood E.J., Suttle N.F. The Mineral Nutrition of Livestock, 3rd edition, CABI Publishing, Wallingford, 1999.
2. M. L. Galyean, L. J. Perino, and G. C. Duff. Interaction of Cattle Health/Immunity and Nutrition1,2 J. Anim. Sci. 1999. 77:1120–1134
3. Maggini S., (a1), Wintergerst E. S.,(a2), Beveridge S., (a1) and Hornig D. H., (a3) Selected vitamins and trace elements support immune function by strengthening epithelial barriers and cellular and humoral immune responses 2007 British Journal of Nutrition Vol 98, Is S1 Oct
4. Cerone S.I., Sansinanea A.S., Streitenberger S.A., Garcia M.C., Auza N.J., 1998, The effect of copper defi ciency on the peripheral blood cells of cattle.
5. Pinna K, Kelley D S, Taylor P C, King J C, 2002. Immune functions are maintained in healthy men with low zinc intake. J Nutr. 132, 2033-2036
6. Tomlinson, D.J, Socha M.T, DeFrain J. M 2008. Role of Trace Minerals in the immune system In 2008 Penn State Dairy Cattle Nutrition Workshop, Nov 12-13 Grantville, PA pp. 39-52
7. NRC. 1996. Nutrient requirements of beef cattle. 7th rev. ed. Update 2000. Natl. Acad. Press, Washington, DC.
8. Arthington, J.D. and Havenga, L.J. (2012). Effect of injectable trace minerals on the humoral immune response to multivalent vaccine administration in beef calves. Journal of Animal Science. 90(6):1966-1971.
9. Roberts, S.L., May, N.D., Brauer, C.L., Gentry, W.W., Weiss, C.P., Jennings, J.S. and Richeson, J.T. (2016). Effect of injectable trace mineral administration on health, performance, and vaccine response of newly received feedlot cattle. The Professional Animal Scientist. 32:842–848.
10. Arthington, J.D., Moriel, P., Martins, P.G.M.A., Lamb, G.C. and Havenga, L.J. (2014). Effects of trace mineral injections on  measures of performance and trace mineral status of pre- and postweaned beef calves. Journal of Animal Science.  92:6:2630-2640.