β-Carotene is a precursor of Vitamin A, which is essential for many physiological functions concerning vision, the development of epithelial membranes, fertility, embryonic development and the immune system. Independent from its role as pro-Vitamin A, β-Carotene has an important impact on the fertility, amongst others by stimulation of progesterone synthesis. Additionally, β-Carotene acts as an antioxidant, protecting the embryo from oxidative damage by free radicals.
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Deficiency of β-Carotene can induce severe fertility problems and impaired immunity, even if Vitamin A supply is adequate. The β-Carotene content in fresh grass can be variable, but much lower in silage. Corn silage, hay or straw are very poor sources. Thus, a regular supply is necessary, in particular during silage feeding.