June 26, 2017 - Don't Forget About Your Cows' Mineral Needs This Grazing Season



Monday, June 26, 2017 - Most cow-calf producers look forward to pasture turnout for many reasons. With grazing season now upon us, make sure to offer a quality mineral supplement that provides consistent daily intake of essential minerals and vitamins. Your pregnancy rates will improve and so will the overall health of your cow herd.

The negative impact of mineral insufficiency takes time to notice, due to how the cow’s body will prioritize metabolism and the fact she can pull from mineral reserves that she’s stored. This can lead to a false belief that we can get by without offering mineral year-round.

Minerals are needed in small amounts, often just milligrams per day, but a minor insufficiency can lead to decreased performance. Trace minerals are called “trace” because they are needed in very small amounts. Many trace minerals are included in a supplement at a low concentration – often in parts per million (ppm), which is not much considering 1 ppm is equivalent to 32 seconds out of a year.

A cow uses trace minerals for several functions with varying priorities. The body’s priority is given to maintenance; second is immune function; third is basic growth; then reproduction. Recent experience has shown that to improve performance and capture most of the genetic potential requires a higher trace mineral status than preventing deficiency. There’s a serious problem if we get to the point where we can detect a mineral deficiency.

Missing supplementation for a period can lead to a lower status. Likewise, feeding higher concentrations or higher daily amounts can be detrimental due to possible antagonist effects on other nutrients. Additionally, some trace minerals can be toxic if fed at high levels.

Free-choice minerals necessitate the use of a mineral feeder. The mineral feeder should protect the mineral, yet not deter intake. Mineral feeders need to be sturdy enough to withstand the elements and animal pressure.

Summer grazing is now in full swing. Proper supplementation throughout the season will help the herd reach your reproductive and performance goals.

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