an active immune system in a Holstein steer requires more than two pounds of glucose over a 24-hour period. The glucose meant for economically relevant tissues will instead be used to support this immune function, reducing total production and profitability.1
Feedlot cattle are often faced with immune challenges demanding an increase in energy efficiency to prevent sickness. During these challenges, glucose metabolism increases, thus increasing chromium utilization and ultimately leading to a chromium deficiency. Research conducted at Texas Tech University suggests that supplementing the diet with chromium propionate enhances the acute phase response of steers to an immune challenge (Figure 1).3
Figure 1. Acute phase response of steers to a lipopolysaccharide (LPS) challenge.3
Additional studies examining stressed beef cattle reported that the number of steers treated at least once tended to linearly decrease with increasing chromium propionate supplementation. Supplementation of chromium propionate reduced the number of steers treated at least once by 18.37 percent compared to non-supplemented steers (Table 1).4
Table 1. Chromium performance and morbidity.
* A chromium effect (P ≤ 0.14) was detected.
** A chromium effect (P ≤ 0.05) was detected.
Mounting an immune response is energetically taxing and requires the reprioritization of nutrients that would otherwise be destined for productive purposes.1 Upon activation, immune cells become obligate glucose utilizers.5 Improved glucose availability to active immune cells increases their longevity and function.6-9 Chromium supplementation primarily acts to improve insulin sensitivity, so more glucose can enter the cell. The additional glucose allows more energy to be available for proper cell function.
Feedlot cattle are often faced with immune challenges demanding an increase in energy efficiency to prevent sickness. During these challenges, glucose metabolism increases, thus increasing chromium utilization and ultimately leading to a chromium deficiency. Research conducted at Texas Tech University suggests that supplementing the diet with chromium propionate enhances the acute phase response of steers to an immune challenge.
Mud presents additional stress on beef animals. Energy expenditure to compensate for the effects of mud decreases energy available for productive purposes, such as daily gain, immune system efficiency, reproductive function and/or milk production. Chromium acts to potentiate the action of insulin, which ultimately allows more glucose availability at the cellular level. Additional glucose is used by the animal in a hierarchical manner to help reduce the energy demand from mud and to provide needed energy for productive purposes.
This study was initiated to gain additional insight into feeding KemTRACE® Chromium to feeder cattle typical of the U.S. commercial cattle feeding business segment. Results of this study suggest that supplementation of chromium propionate to the basal diet can have a beneficial effect on the performance and health of newly received steers.
A trial involving 132 crossbred steer calves was conducted to assess the effects of chromium propionate during the receiving and finishing periods. In this trial, under adverse environmental and stress conditions during the receiving and initial feeding periods, cattle responded to an increase in glucose provided by the influence of chromium propionate on cellular insulin receptors. It appears this increased glucose manifested itself in improvements in various parameters during the receiving and finishing period.
Animals experience frequent immune challenges as bacterial insults can originate from many different situations. Economic consequences of sickness are due to decreased growth, inefficient feed utilization, poor reproduction and increased healthcare costs. An activated immune system requires energy in the form of glucose and literature suggests glucose homeostasis is disrupted during an endotoxin challenge. This study aimed to quantify the amount of glucose needed to maintain euglycemia during an immune challenge.
The primary role of chromium is to potentiate the action of insulin. Increased insulin activity promotes intracellular glucose uptake, providing more efficient energy utilization. Feedlot cattle are often faced with immune challenges that demand an increase in energy efficiency in order to prevent sickness. Research has demonstrated that chromium propionate has a consistent and repeatable response in optimizing insulin sensitivity, increasing the opportunity to maximize feedlot performance and increase profits.
Dr. Lance Baumgard
Iowa State University
Professor of Animal Science
Dr. Jeff Carroll
USDA-ARS, Livestock Research Unit
1S. K. Kvidera, E. A. Horst, M. Abuajamieh, E. J. Mayorga, M. V. Sanz Fernandez, and L. H. Baumgard. Technical note: A procedure to estimate glucose requirements of an activated immune system in steers. J. Anim. Sci. 2016.94:4591–4599.
2Kluger, M.J. and B.A. Rothenburg. 1979. Fever and reduced iron: Their interaction as a host defense response to bacterial infection. Science 203(4378):374–376.
3Burdick NC, Bernhard BC, Carroll JA, Rathmann RJ, Johnson BJ. Enhancement of the acute phase response to a lipopolysaccharide challenge in steers supplemented with chromium. Innate Immunity. 2012 Aug;18(4):592-601. doi: 10.1177/1753425911428964. Epub 2011 Dec 16.
4Bernhard BC, Burdick NC, Rounds W, Rathmann RJ, Carroll JA, Finck DN, Jennings MA, Young TR, Johnson BJ. Chromium supplementation alters the performance and health of feedlot cattle during the receiving period and enhances their metabolic response to and lipopolysaccharide (LPS) challenge. J. Anim. Sci. 90:3879-3888.
5Palsson-McDermott, E. M., and L. A. O’Neill. 2013. The Warburg effect then and now: From cancer to inflammatory diseases. BioEssays 35:965–973.
6Sagone, A. L., A. F. LoBuglio, and S. P. Balcerzak. 1974. Alterations in hexose monophosphate shunt during lymphoblastic transformation. Cell. Immunol. 14:443–452. Sheldon, I. M., E. J. Williams, A.
7Furukawa, S., H. Saito, T. Matsuda, T. Inoue, K. Fukatsu, I. Han, S. Ikeda, A. Hidemura, and T. Muto. 2000. Relative effects of glucose and glutamine on reactive oxygen intermediate production by neutrophils. Shock 13:274–278.
8Healy, D. A., R. W. Watson, and P. Newsholme. 2002. Glucose, but not glutamine, protects against spontaneous and anti-Fas antibody induced apoptosis in human neutrophils. Clin. Sci. 103:179–189.
9Garcia, M., T. H. Elsasser, Y. Qu, X. Zhu, and K. M. Moyes. 2015. Glucose supplementation has minimal effects on blood neutrophil function and gene expression in vitro. J. Dairy Sci. 98:6139–6150.
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