Oxidative Balance: The Backbone To Efficient Beef Production

07.12.2011– ST. LOUIS – Beef producers are familiar with the performance standards of weaning weight, average daily gain, carcass quality and feed efficiency. One factor that can affect all of these measures of profitability has not received much attention – until now. Oxidative balance, a major factor in an animal’s health and well-being, is a main focus for Novus International Inc. when evaluating efficient beef production.

Novus is a global developer of nutrition products for better health. Its research team is committed to making beef production more efficient and profitable, from cow-calf to backgrounding to feedlot. Efficiency and profitability face many challenges in the course of an animal’s life. Understanding oxidative balance helps a producer know why.

What is oxidative balance?

Oxidative balance describes the normal amount of free radicals in an animal’s system. Free radicals are compounds in the body that alter cells and cause oxidation, as part of an animal’s normal metabolic processes. When an animal is under stress, free radicals accumulate beyond the normal level, damage cells and cause inefficiencies.

Stephanie Gable, Global Marketing Manager, Ruminants, explains why Novus pays attention to oxidative balance: “Oxidative stress is displayed through a number of signs that reduce profitability, from reproductive inefficiency to sick animals. Dealing with that stress requires energy that the animal could use for growth, reproduction and overall productivity. A good nutrition program with an antioxidant can reduce stress, maintain oxidative balance, and improve immune system performance and feed efficiency.”

Regular events in beef production heighten oxidative stress.

Daily factors can affect oxidative balance in beef cattle. Stress from transport, weaning, calving, hot summer weather and insufficient diet all heighten oxidative stress and can result in noticeable production losses. Whenever cattle reduce their levels of dry matter intake, they also reduce their energy reserves needed to cope with extra free radicals.

Dennis Nuzback is the Ruminant Technical Manager with Novus International and explains the impact of heightened oxidative stress: “Free radicals are like sparks from a fire. The more free radicals left unreacted in an animal experiencing stress, the greater the toll the sparks can have on the animal’s ability to perform optimally. If enough sparks exist, a fire may break in the form of lost reproduction, disease or diminished weight gain.”

Maintain oxidative balance through nutrition.

Proper nutrition is the bridge to bolstered immune systems and under-control free radical levels. Nutrition can help overcome insufficient diets, high-sulfate water and energy gaps when stressed animals reduce their dry matter intake.

Novus recommends to:

1. Supplement with highly bioavailable chelated trace minerals, MAAC® or MINTREX®, to meet the animal’s mineral requirement with less waste.

2. Add ALIMET® or MFPTM feed supplements to cattle formulations to help improve microbial protein production in the digestive tract. Balancing beef cattle diets with ALIMET or MFP helps cattle reach their productive potential as measured by favorable lean tissue levels, high enzyme activity and a strong immune response.

3. Incorporate an antioxidant blend like AGRADO® Ultra feed ingredient in the diet to bind free radicals to protect nutrients.

Nuzback explains that the Novus oxidative balance nutrition program should be employed well before a planned stress event, like calving or transport, to see the greatest improvement. The animal needs to stock up its reservoir of antioxidants, trace minerals and amino acids to be prepared to deal with the challenge. Implementing the oxidative balance nutrition program early also helps to deal with the little sparks in an animal’s daily life, so it’s able to cope better with the larger sources of stress.

“Even if you have the very best genetics or vaccination program, you won’t reap the full benefits if oxidative stress is affecting your herd,” adds Gable. “Things you can’t control – dry weather, high temperatures, wet conditions – all work against your herd’s health and productivity. Oxidative balance allows your animals to deal with these stressors and contributes to your operation’s profitability and efficiency.”

To start your own oxidative balance nutrition program, contact your nutritionist or a Novus representative. Learn more about oxidative balance by visiting