Trace Elements and Vitamins in EnduraBol Boluses

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Deficiencies in trace elements can be primary or secondary. Primary deficiencies are caused by a lack of dietary trace elements whilst secondary deficiencies are caused by other compounds which may inhibit the uptake of function of the target trace element. Below we have summarised some of the key functions of each trace element and vitamin within our boluses, in addition to the consequences of deficiencies.

Trace Elements

Definition: “A trace element is a dietary element that is needed in very minute quantities for the proper growth, development, and physiology of the organism.”



Selenium acts in synergy with Vitamin E as an antioxidant, protecting cells from metabolic damage and strengthening immune function. It can confer an increase in disease resistance, milk production, reproduction, vigour and helps prevent retained placentas. Selenium deficiency can result in white muscle disease in new-born calves, which can be fatal if it affects cardiac or respiratory muscle. This commonly occurs in selenium-deficient calves following turnout to pasture. Deficiencies have also been linked to stillborn calves, poor growth rates, reduced vigour, immunity and infertility. Mothers are often selenium deficient as they secrete selenium in colostrum to suckling calves.



Iodine is needed for the production of thyroid hormones, such as thyroxine which controls energy metabolism. Iodine plays an important role in milk production, immune function, protein synthesis, thermoregulation and reproduction. Iodine deficiencies can cause poor growth, poor milk production and miscarriages, in addition it is also essential for foetal growth and development. Pronounced iodine deficiencies can also induce the formation of a goitre, or swollen neck, caused by an enlarged thyroid gland. Lastly, deficiencies have been linked to late abortions presenting as weak or still born calves. Low iodine content in soil causes primary deficiencies. Secondary deficiency are caused by goitrogens named thiocyanate and thiouracil found in brassica crops and some legumes.



Cobalt is an essential trace element found at the centre of vitamin B12, which is required for energy metabolism. Ruminating animals can produce their own vitamin B12 as long there is a regular supply of Cobalt in the diet. Vitamin B12 is secreted in the milk, providing a source to suckling calves. It is important for energy metabolism, fibre digestion and the immune system. A deficiency in cobalt is medically defined as pine. This is characterised by a slower growth rate than expected, known as an “ill-thrift”, anaemia, lethargy and a reduction in appetite.



Cattle are reliant upon many copper dependent enzymes for energy metabolism, growth, hair pigmentation, health and immune system function. Copper deficiency affects hair pigmentation, most noticeably around the eyes. It also affects bone structure, the nervous system and iron absorption, thereby causing anaemia. Copper deficiency can either be primary, which is characterised by a lack of dietary copper, or secondary, caused by inhibition of copper uptake from an excess of molybdenum, sulfur or iron. Infertility can arise from secondary copper deficiencies.



Zinc is essential for growth, immunity, skin integrity, reproduction and offspring viability. Zinc storage is minimal meaning a continual supply of zinc is recommended to avoid deficiencies. Zinc deficiencies cause reproductive issues in males, skin lesions, poor growth, increased susceptibility to infection and alterations to smell, taste and sight.



Manganese is involved in the functioning of several different enzymes, making it essential for normal growth, development and reproduction. Whilst forage usually contains sufficient quantities of manganese, deficiencies can occur, especially in maize based cattle diets. Manganese deficiencies can cause reproductive complications, abortions and skeletal deformities.



Definition: “Organic compounds necessary for the normal function of cellular metabolism, which cannot be synthesised by living organisms”

Vitamin A


Vitamin A, also known as retinol, is crucial for vision, growth, normal reproduction and a healthy immune system. Supplementation can be important whilst cattle are feeding on dormant pastures and stored forages. High quality leafy forage is high in vitamin A precursors. Vitamin A deficiency may occur following reduced feed intake and symptoms may include poor condition, slow growth, night-time blindness and reproduction problems.

Vitamin D3


Vitamin D, which can be generated following sunlight exposure, is involved in calcium and phosphorus absorption. This means it is closely linked to skeletal development and mineralisation. It may also play a supplementary role in immune protection. Cattle do not store vitamin D and deficiency can cause rickets, digestive complications and general weakness.


Vitamin E


Vitamin E, similar to selenium, is an important antioxidant, facilitating normal cellular function by protecting cells from damaging oxidants. It is particularly important for muscle structure and function. Vitamin E has a wide therapeutic range and requirements depend on intake of other antioxidants, sulfur, selenium and fatty acids. Vitamin E breaks down more quickly in moist feeds compared to dry feeds. Deficiency can cause white muscle disease in calves.