Sodium (Na) - cattle

Sodium (Na), together with chloride (Cl) and potassium (K), plays an essential role in the osmotic pressure of body cells and thus the moisture balance of the body. Together, these minerals determine the cation-anion difference (also called acid-base balance) of the ration and likewise of the body.

Sodium plays a role in the transmission of nerve impulses and in the production of enzymes essential for the absorption of glucose and certain amino acids. Sodium also has a buffering function in the gastrointestinal tract in the form of sodium carbonate and sodium phosphate. Normally, sodium levels in the blood are kept very constant. To get more clarity on sodium supply, saliva can be examined.

Sodium Requirements (CVB, 2016).
Category g/kg dry matter g/animal/day
Young cattle from 4 months 0.6 2.3
Young cattle from 9 months 0.5 3.0
Young cattle from 16 months 0.5 4.0
Dry 8-3 weeks to calving 0.7 7.6
Dry 3-0 weeks to calving 0.6 6.6
Lactating (20 kg) 1.1 20
Lactating (40 kg) 1.4 33


Sodium deficiency

Sodium deficiency does not cause specific deficiency symptoms, but usually leads to decreased feed intake, fertility and production. Other symptoms that may be observed are emaciation, drowsiness, dry, stiff skin, urine drinking, licking and afterbirth that doesn’t come off.

Sodium excess

Sodium excess may occur alongside excessive salt intake, water deficiency and diarrhea (excessive fluid loss). Symptoms of sodium excess include excessive drinking, a stiff gait and muscle tremors. The CVB (2005) indicates a toxicity limit of 10 g/kg dry matter (for chronically high levels).

Forage Manager

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