Vitamin B12 is an essential nutrient that both humans and cattle need. It plays a number of roles in the body, helping to form red blood cells and DNA, along with assisting with a number of other processes. Cattle need B12, but where do they get it, and how much do they need? Is their diet enough, or should ranchers be feeding their cattle supplemental B12? We explore all this and more in today’s blog from Dark Hammock Legacy Ranch. Visit our blog page to learn more expert cattle raising advice, from beginner to pro. 


The Function of Vitamin B12 in Cattle

In cattle, this essential nutrient assists in the production of important amino acids and helps to metabolize nucleic acids, fats, and carbohydrates. It also contributes to the normal formation and utilization of folic acid, also known as vitamin B9. Folic acid improves the efficiency of energy metabolism, helping cattle put on weight, produce more milk, and stay healthy while they grow. Vitamin B12 also goes hand-in-hand with the element and mineral cobalt. One cannot exist without the other, so where there is a B12 deficiency, there is also a cobalt deficiency. 

Where Does Vitamin B12 Come From?

Ranchers typically don’t need to worry about their cattle getting a direct or supplemental source of vitamin B12; in fact, they only need to ensure they’re getting enough cobalt from the plants they’re consuming. Plants and grasses that cows graze on are taking up cobalt through their roots and passing it along to the cattle. If they’re getting enough cobalt through grasses and legumes, it can then be converted through microbial synthesis into B12.

What Happens in a Deficiency?

As mentioned previously, deficiencies in vitamin B12 are caused by severe deficiencies in cobalt. Young cattle deficient in vitamin B12 could see cessation of growth and poor appetite. To avoid deficiency, ensure fields contain sufficient cobalt and avoid overgrazing. Visit our fields on an agritour

Fields should be consistently monitored to ensure the correct nutrient levels are being provided to the herd. To learn more about cattle nutrition from Dark Hammock Legacy Ranch, visit our website.