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Minerals, Mania, and More!

Calving season and spring time presents us with many exciting times and even more trying times. In order to alleviate the effects (and causes) of those stressful times, we recommend an assessment of your mineral program!  It’s never too early to make sure the nutrients we provide to our animals are the right ones!


Minerals are essential and are the building blocks of functional life. Specifically in macro amounts, animals need calcium, phosphorus, sodium, chlorine, potassium and magnesium, and in trace amounts, copper, zinc, selenium, manganese, and cobalt. The calcium-phosphorus ratio (2:1) is important to an animal’s nutrition, especially during parturition (giving birth) and lactation periods. Phosphorus allows the animal to transfer and utilize energy within its body and is present in every living cell’s nucleic acid, and the stores of Calcium and Phosphorus can help with short-term dietary inadequacies.


After extensive expulsion of energy in the dam (for example, parturition), calcium and phosphorus amounts will be reduced significantly, resulting in what we call “Milk Fever” as the dam is funneling those nutrients into both energy production and utilization and the formulation of milk. During the season of grass greening up and growing quickly, we’ll need to pay special attention to Magnesium levels. As producers, we also must be cognisant of our animals’ health during breeding season as to not decrease reproduction rates in our herds.


Some symptoms one might see if a herd is deficient in some sort of mineral or nutrient may include (but are not limited to):

Cattle chewing on bones in the pasture.

Decreased fertility and immunity.

Inability to deliver offspring or clean post-birthing.

Loss of appetite.

Inefficient weight gains or body weight loss.

What steps do you need to take as a producer, though? There are multiple ways we can assess mineral programs; however, the most common (and most cost-effective) ways are through samples of the minerals we supplement our animals or (if we need to see what the specific animal is deficient in) blood samples and liver biopsies. Please contact your veterinarian or local extension service if you have any questions or would like to schedule your mineral assessment!


References:


Connor Orrock. “Mineral Needs of Cattle Throughout the Year.” Drovers, October 7, 2015. https://www.drovers.com/article/mineral-needs-cattle-throughout-year.

Lawton Stewart. “Mineral Supplements for Beef Cattle.” University of Georgia Extension, March 31, 2017. http://extension.uga.edu/publications/detail.html?number=B895&title=Mineral%20Supplements%20for%20Beef%20Cattle.

Gavin D. Sulewski. “Phosphorus in Animal Nutrition,” International Plant Nutrition Institute, 1999. http://www.ipni.net/publication/bettercrops.nsf/0/26DA4CB5683B37F9852579800082018E/$FILE/Better%20Crops%201999-1%20p32.pdf.

Limon Leader, Milesaver - Country Critter Tails

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