Read about how to spot a Vitamin A deficiency in calves and the importance the vitamin plays in cattle health.

A Beef Magazine article maintains that “Vitamin A is critical in reproduction, growth, and health in cattle.” However, the article shares that “Though green grass is rich in the precursor to vitamin A, beta carotene, deficiency in vitamin A may be of concern due to recent years of drought.” The article shares how to recognize a Vitamin A deficiency in calves as well as tips for ensuring adequate vitamin nutrition for your entire herd. See the details below.

Recognizing Vitamin A Deficiency in Calves

The article shares that “It is essential to monitor for signs of vitamin A deficiency as it can be a major factor in the success of your calf crop this year,” and that “Vitamin A is important in epithelial cells, such as those in the eye and those lining the gut.”

Watch for these signs of Vitamin A deficiency in calves:

  • “Increased illness” due to a dampened immune system, “including diarrhea and pneumonia.”
  • “Reduced feed intake and growth.”
  • “Rough hair coat.”
  • “Weak and uncoordinated.”
  • “In extreme deficiency, a white film over the eye (xerophthalmia)”

Tips for Avoiding Deficiency

The article maintains that “National recommendations for vitamin A supplementation assume cows have been eating lots of green grass for a significant portion of the year, building stores for critical processes such as vision, helping cows stay healthy while pregnant, and general cattle health.”

Improving Vitamin A levels includes:

  • Ensuring newborn calves have access to colostrum”, as it is one of the most important parts of establishing vitamin A status in newborn calves.”
  • Since “Vitamin A stores begin to be moved for colostrum production before calving, so it is important to consider vitamin A supplementation in your cows during late gestation.”
  • “Stored feedstuffs, like cornstalks and hay, are likely low in vitamin A, so they should be supplemented with vitamin A to ensure calves obtain adequate vitamin A in the colostrum and milk.

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