Rising Costs of Vitamins A and E
Megan Van Emon, Extension Beef Cattle Specialist
As many may have noticed, cost of vitamins A and E have increased over the past few months, and subsequently, mineral supplements that include vitamins A and E. The rising costs were mainly due to a fire on October 31, 2017 at the BASF plant in Germany, which produces citral, a precursor in manufacturing vitamin A and E products. The BASF vitamin A and E manufacturing plants were shut down for scheduled, routine maintenance at the time of the fire and will reopen once the citral plant begins production again and other production intermediates become available. Currently, the plant is working on repairs and information about those repairs can be found on the BASF website (https://nutrition.basf.com/en/Citral-plant.html). The earliest the citral plant will be operational is the end of March, barring any delays in materials, inspections, and other issues. Downstream products, such as vitamin A and E, will become available 6 to 12 weeks after the citral plant resumes production. However, shipment and delivery of vitamin A and E may take up to several months.
Vitamins A and E are fat soluble vitamins and are required daily for beef cattle production. Vitamin A does not occur naturally in plant material, but precursors, such as carotenes and carotenoids do occur in plants. The conversion of carotenes to vitamin A primarily occurs in the wall of the small intestine. Pregnant beef heifers and cows require 1,273 IU/lb of dry feed and lactating cows and breeding bulls require 1,773 IU/of dry feed to meet maintenance requirements. The majority of vitamin A is stored in the liver, with the remainder stored in fat and other organs. Vitamin A deficiency symptoms include night blindness, lowered fertility, abortions, and lameness. Vitamin E is present in feeds as tocopherol, with alpha-tocopherol having the greatest biological value. Vitamin E requirements for reproducing beef cattle are not as clear as vitamin A. For young calves, the vitamin E requirement is between 7 and 27 IU/lb of dry feed and between 50 and 100 IU/head/day for older growing and finishing cattle. Vitamin E’s main role is as an antioxidant. Vitamin E deficiency symptoms include impaired reproduction and white muscle disease. Vitamins A and E are consumed in the diet and are also available as an injectable.