Natural Zeolite Dairy Feed
Many peer reviewed publications describe natural zeolite feed additive benefits upon healthy, at-risk, and disease challenged animals, the body of research indicated several possibilities: Macro and micro nutrition, ionic buffering, surface absorption. Research indicates that as natural zeolites pass through the animal and spend time in the digestive tract, they do not pass through the intestinal wall. The natural zeolite structure framework is stable and is not altered by the digestive monogastrics and rumens.
Natural Clinoptilolite Zeolite can play 4 important roles in overall heard health of production animals, they include: rumen buffering, sodium bicarbonate partial or complete substitution, relief from diarrhea, afloatoxin mycotoxin binder.
Since Zeolite is one of the only naturally occurring negatively charged minerals in existence, numerous benefits in the feed process can result from its basic chemistry. Zeolite is inert, stable, and non-toxic.
Zeolite and Ammonium play an important role in nitrogen and protein supply in the Rumen. When Zeolite is fed to animal, it absorbs much of the ammonia generated from the Non Protein Nitrogen (NPN). It acts as a reservoir and a slow release mechanism for the Nitrogen. This allows you to feed more NPN.
The introduction of Zeolite into animal feed improves animal growth and weight gain by increased feed conversion. Zeolite also effectively absorbs many mycotoxins and aflatoxins, in turn having a proactive effect against the development of aflatoxicosis in farm animals.
The strong affinity for ammonium also provides superior odor control and healthier local environment. It lowers the risk of toxicity from the increase of Ph levels in the Rumen and increase of ammonium levels in the blood serum. Zeolite acts as a Rumen buffer for the total digestive tract. High CEC levels of 1.9 to 2.5 equates to more buffering.
- Increased overall herd health
- Acts as a binding agent for mycotoxins and aflatoxins
- Acts as a buffering agent
- 30%-40% reduction in ammonia released from the cow
- Added fertilizer value to your waste products
- 100% natural and Certified Organic by the Idaho Department of Agriculture
- Better value and a direct replacement for sodium bicarbonate as a rumen buffer
- Increased feed conversion
- Balances Ph levels
Once Zeolite leaves the cow, it will be fully loaded with Nitrogen and ready for use in fields or compost. This bound Nitrogen is unique in the sense it will only be released through CEC in the form of plant mineralization.
Extended use will also promote lower water necessity to obtain the same crop yield because Zeolite can hold up to 60% of its mass in water. Zeolite will also recapture any commercial fertilizer applied to the field retaining it in the root zone for further use.
Sodium Bicarbonate Replacement
The use of Zeolite as a replacement for sodium bicarbonate as a Rumen buffer has been known for years. The advantages of using 40- mesh Zeolite over Sodium Bicarbonate include:
- Better economics
- Increased odor control
- Increased feed efficiency
- Reduced scours
- Increased mycotoxin binding
- Both are naturally formed and mined from the earth
- Both act as a ruminary buffer for cattle
- Both are available for less than $300 per ton
- Zeolite acts as a ammonia reservoir that will hold and release ammonium as needed
- Zeolite has positive effects downstream in the nutrient management plan
- Zeolite has a high CEC value
- FDA approved as an anti-caking agent
- Added Protection from mycotoxins
- Zeolites reduce odor
Utah State University:
Effects of supplementation of natural Zeolite on intake, digestion, ruminal fermentation, and lactational performance of dairy cows.
Tests showed that Zeolite’s ability to act as a reservoir can result in protection of the animal against ammonia overload in the rumen. The reason being that after the release of ammonia consequent to each meal, Zeolite absorbs the high levels of NH₃ concentration, then releases as needed when the concentration is reduced (Mumpton, 1977).
Supplementing Zeolite has no negative effects on productive performance and ruminal fermentation, which indicates that Zeolite can effectively replace Sodium Bicarbonate (NaHCO₃) and increase milk protein while reducing overall costs associated.
Utah State University:
Use of rumen modifiers to manipulate ruminal fermentation and improve nutrients utilization and lactation performance in dairy cows.
Feeding Zeolite would cost effectively replace sodium bicarbonate as a ruminal buffer, whereas CTE may change the route of N excretion, having less excretion into urine, but more into feces. The high affinity of Zeolites for water and osmotically active cations may facilitate ruminal fermentation, and osmotic activity may regulate pH in the rumen by buffering against hydrogen ions of organic acids. In addition, supplementing Zeolite in dairy diets may improve N utilization because Zeolite gradually releases excess ammonia in the rumen and allows rumen microorganisms to capture ammonia into microbial protein for assimilation.
Nutrient Management Plan
Zeolite will play an important role in the nutrient management plan of the future. We at IDA-ORE have worked closely with the Idaho Department of Agriculture and the EPA to have many Zeolite practices approved for better management practice points. We are currently working with the University of Idaho, Idaho Department of Dairy and Agriculture, CAFO, NRCS, Idaho Animal Health Laboratories, and the Idaho Association of Soil Conservation to proceed through the necessary studies needed for Zeolite to become recognized for all of its environmental benefits.
Much of the Nitrogen entering a farm as animal feed ends up as ammonium in manure, which is either volatilized as noxious ammonia or leached as nitrate. Zeolite captures this nitrogen. Environmentally, this improves the fertilizer efficiency of manure compost, as well as reduces nitrate leaching by inhibiting the nitrification of ammonium. Economically, Zeolite is conservatively capable of holding 4.3% by volume of Nitrogen, and 5.7% by volume of potassium and will exit the cow as fully bound and ready to be released though plant mineralization onto pastures and crops while adding value.
It should also be noted that nitrogen cannot be sequestered like carbon can, so reducing the emissions of nitrous oxide can play a large role in Agricultural Soil Management. Nitrous Oxide released from agricultural soils currently contributes almost 70 percent of the total nitrous oxide emissions in the US. Reducing Nitrogen losses from agricultural soils and manure has the potential to significantly reduce agricultural GHG emissions.
Although it remains a challenge to accurately measure the amount of nitrous oxide being emitted from farm fields due to many variables. We do know that nitrous oxide is roughly 300X more powerful than carbon dioxide in terms of GHG emissions and qualify for carbon credits. We also know Zeolite will bind and hold nitrogen in the manure, which in turn reduces the amount of nitrous oxide being released. As stated earlier, “Zeolite will play an important role in the nutrient management plan of the future.” Additional testing is needed to quantify this benefit for GHG credits.
Composting with Zeolite
Zeolite has two methods of holding cations such as ammonium and plant nutrients:
- Absorption into the porous matrix
- Adsorption by cation exchange (CEC)
Zeolite holds ammonium and other nutrients in the crystal structure where they are not water soluble but are plant accessible on an as-needed and time-release basis. As discussed, Zeolite has a high affinity for the ammonium ion, is a plant usable form of nitrogen.
Zeolite adds value to manure and compost:
- The introduction of Zeolite with the manure, compost, or lagoon water has many added benefits:
- Increased water retention
- The holding of nitrogen and
- micro-nutrients in the root zone
- Provides a medium for future capture of nitrogen
- Increased ion exchange capacity in the soil
- Enhanced infiltration and aeration of the soil
- Zeolite has numerous advantages in the area of water conservation and nutrient leaching prevention.
- Zeolite is capable of holding up to 50% of its weight in water.
- Tests have shown Zeolite can increase water infiltration by 7%-30% on gentle sloped land and up to 50% on steep sloped land.
- Soil moisture can be increased by 0.4%-1.8% in drought conditions and 5%-15% in general water situations
- Consequently, overland surface runoff is reduced, in turn protecting lands from erosion.
- Use of soluble N fertilizers is a major cause for groundwater contamination. Zeolite reduces nitrate leaching by inhibiting the nitrification of ammonium to nitrate.
The bound nitrogen has the capability to triple the amount of nutrients actually being used by the plant instead of lost to volatilization and leaching. This affinity to nutrients can add significant amounts of nitrogen and potassium to soils.
Prevention of Aflatoxicosis in Farm Animals by Means of Hydrated Sodium Calcium Aluminosilicate (Zeolite) to Feedstuffs: a Review Ramos, A.J and Hernandez E. (1997), Spain.
Mycotoxins are a wide group of fungal toxins that have been associated with severe toxic effects (mycotoxicosis ) in humans and animals. Aflatoxins are the most dangerous of these secondary metabolites. There is no definitive way to achieve complete detoxification of food and feed contaminated with mycotoxins. Natural zeolites have a high a high affinity to absorb aflatoxins, thereby having a protective effect against the development of aflatoxicosis in farm animals. Paper postulates a mechanism for the protective effect against aflatoxicosis generated by a sorbent compound obtained from a natural Zeolite.
Minerals for Animal Feed in a stable market. Loughbrough R. (1993) Assistant Editor
Zeolites can be used as binding agents in animal feeds. Zeolite’s primary values are as growth promoters and carriers of nutrients. As growth promoters, Zeolites act as a buffer in the animal’s digestive system, storing nitrogen in the form of ammonium and releasing it gradually by ion exchange with sodium and potassium. The animal receives greater benefit from the same quantity of feed. The ammonium absorbing characteristics result in drier feces and an improved atmosphere.
Veterinary Medicine, University of Missouri.
Mycotoxins are secondary metabolites produced by certain fungi in a number of agricultural products. Mycotoxin contamination may affect as much as 25% of the world’s food crops. The prevention of mycotoxicosis in livestock can be achieved by the inclusion of mineral adsorbents to bind mycotoxins, thereby decreasing their bioavailability. Zeolites effectively absorb mycotoxins containing polar groups, such as aflatoxins.