The Vitamin Crunch

The Vitamin Crunch

World supplies of Vitamin A & E are being challenged as a result of several events. On October 31, 2017 a BASF plant in Ludwigshafen, Germany was heavily damaged by fire. This plant produced citral which is a precursor to both Vitamins A & E. After the fire BASF declared force majeure on their citral contracts with their customers. We’ll save you looking that up, it means that BASF was backing out of those contracts due to an act of God type clause, they could not physically supply the product due to the plant damage.

Other supplies typically come from China, but they have been facing environmental pressure to clean up their plants and their production is reduced as a result.

The result of these events is sharply higher Vitamin prices to all feed manufacturers. This situation is expected to exist through mid-2018. Purina Animal Nutrition has corresponded with dealers and are taking the position that proper animal nutrition is more important than trying to hold current pricing through reduced Vitamin levels in our feed products. We had some price increases in December and have seen some significant increases on this month’s pricing. Most range minerals are up $2.50 to $4.50 per bag and protein and mineral tubs are up $4 - $8 each. This will translate to 2 to 3 cents per day increased cost per cow per day. In my book that is not worth taking the risk to try to cut input costs on Vitamins, especially as most producers are now approaching calving and lactation which is the highest need period in a cow’s production cycle. 

Remember, the only way a cow can get Vitamin A is from the diet, either through man made supplements or forages. Lush green forages are high in Vitamin A and green harvested hay will have decent levels right after harvest. Vitamin A is rather fragile and harvested forages typically loose Vitamin A activity relatively rapidly, the level will typically be reduced 50% in the first 6 months after harvest. Vitamin A is fat soluble, and animals will have some reserve in their liver. Vitamin A is very important to immunity response in beef cattle and their calves. Vitamin A is also very important to bone growth and preventing night blindness. In short, it is much easier (and cheaper) to prevent a shortage than to try to fix the problems that result if you don’t prevent it. We strongly encourage beef producers to stay calm, don’t cut off your nose to spite your face so to speak, even if cow per day costs are 5 cents higher for 6 months you are looking at $4 - $5 total. The cost of problems from cutting a corner here could be much, much greater than that. We will keep you abreast of developments in the supply chain, and await relief right along with you.

Thanks for your trust and patronage,

Kent Ingram, Ingram Feed & Seed