Diatoms are tiny single celled aquatic organisms. These tiny organisms are protected by a glassy shell. Diatoms take silicon dioxide from the water to form their shells. There are two types of Diatomaceous Earth, one derived from salt water, the other from fresh water.
The Diatomaceous Earth that is mined for use today was formed in prehistoric times when much of the earth was covered with water. As the water receded and the diatoms died, vast deposits of skeletal remains were compressed into formations called diatomite. Diatomaceous Earth is produced by mining and milling (crushing) diatomite.
The way in which each type of Diatomaceous Earth is processed dictates the possible uses. Filter grind has long crystalline structures which can cause injury if inhaled or ingested. The type used for swimming pool filters has been partially melted and chemically treated. Diatomaceous Earth is also a powerful absorbent, used in industry for that purpose.
Food grade Diatomaceous Earth is used as a binding agent or inert carrier in foods, pills, toothpastes etc. It is listed in the ingredients as Silicon Dioxide.
In Canada and the U.S., Diatomaceous Earth is approved as an inert carrier or anti-caking agent in feeds in an amount not to exceed 2% of the total diet. (CFIA)
Each product is packaged and labelled according to the governing acency requirements.
The type of Diatomaceous Earth used in agriculture must be milled until it reaches the consistency of flour. It is then called amorphous silica or fossil shell flour. Under a powerful microscope the tiny sharp edges will be seen, but to the touch, it feels like chalk dust.
In agriculture, its' uses are of a "mechanical" nature. As a feed additive, it's anti-caking properties promote digestion by keeping feed particles separate. By inhibiting clumping, more of the surface area of the feed is exposed to the digestion process.
Diatomaceous Earth which can be fed to animals and is safe for humans as well, is Amorphous Silica, the fresh water type, food grade quality. It is naturally white in colour resembling chalk dust with the texture of talcum powder. It is not chemically altered, treated or heated in any way.
The popularity of Diatomaceous Earth as a prevention for calf scours has built over the past decade. This information has passed word-of-mouth from producer to producer and has been widely publicized in the the print media.
The purity of the Diatomaceous Earth product becomes more important when used as a calf scour prevention. The purer the product, the less risk the calves will go back to eating black dirt. The purpose of providing Diatomaceous Earth free choice to the calves is to prevent them from doing this.
So, why will they eat Diatomaceous Earth instead? About 60% of the earth's crust is Silicon Dioxide. It's in the form of crystalline silica such as rocks, clays, quartz (sand) soil and precious stones. Black dirt contains a crystalline type of Silicon Dioxide. The barnyard variety, contaminated with disease organisms, bacteria and parasites, can be a killer for newborn calves. The common denominator would appear to be the Silicon Dioxide content.
WHITE EARTH is a 100% natural Diatomaceous Earth product. It is a fresh water type, food grade quality, Amorphous Silica, naturally white in colour, imported from Nevada.
There are more than 25 countries in the world with naturally occurring diatomite deposits. The purest deposit with the highest Silicon Dioxide content that is economically accessible for use in Canada is located in the state of Nevada.
If it is the Silicon Dioxide in the Diatomaceous Earth that the calves crave, then a pure 100% product, containing 80% or more Silicon Dioxide would be the product of choice. WHITE EARTH is that product.
Products containing less Diatomaceous Earth or blended with a clay product may appear more economical to use, but this is not always the case. The Silicon Dioxide content will be lower having been replaced with another substance. Natural 100% Diatomaceous Earth has a lower bulk density than a blended product. A 50 lb. bag blended with clay will be smaller than a 50 lb. bag of pure product. The larger volume bag will serve more calves.
Diatomaceous Earth as a feed additive has not received the same publicity as it has for scour prevention. As a dirt-eating alternative, it's effects are evident when you see how the calves go after it! It's not as obvious when used as a feed additive, however, one use has led to the other.
Producers who used it as a scour prevention are re-introducing the same calves to Diatomaceous Earth when they come in from the pasture. Some start the calves prior to weaning, others start it at weaning time.
Producers use it as a top dressing when starting calves on feed or when making a ration change. For newly weaned calves, they seem to get eating and drinking faster when Diatomaceous Earth is used. Their stress level is reduced, cutting down on runny noses etc.
Our customers not only use it for their cattle herds and calves, but also for sheep, goats, chickens, ducks, turkeys, pigs, horses and bison. Hog producers in particular, have reported that the beneficial effects as a feed additive, evident in other livestock, appear more pronounced in livestock raised in a more confined environment.
As a feed additive, it is used by feed mills as an anti-caking agent. The recommended rate is not to exceed 2% of the total diet. It's properties promote digestion by keeping feed particles separate. By inhibiting clumping, more of the surface area of the feed is exposed to the digestion process. This points to better feed conversion. Producers that process their own grains are adding Diatomaceous Earth to their regular mixes.
The results of using Diatomaceous Earth are most evident when applied to organic production. The beneficial effects of using it can not be attributed to medicated feeds, antibiotic use, implants or any other chemical use because organic producers don't use any of these products.
WHITE EARTH does contain several essential trace minerals.
This is not an aspect we have emphasized in the past. Producers using it as a scour prevention do not often consider the possibility of secondary benefits. Also, we are not convinced these minerals are readily accessible to very young calves. Their systems are operating on a liquid diet when Diatomaceous Earth is being used. The digestion process may be too fast or too underdeveloped to benefit from the trace mineral content.
As producers, we use WHITE EARTH as a scour prevention and as a feed additive for the cows.
As many producers are now using WHITE EARTH as a feed additive, we are more confident in promoting the trace minerals as a possible benefit.
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