This has been a great week. We finally got the first general rain in our area. Most of us got an inch or more and that is great. In some spots it was barely half an inch, but that is a start. The warmer temperatures this week should give the prairie grasses a boost and we will be ready to go to grass in the next several weeks. We all realize our cow herd must be on a good mineral program all year long, but spring and summer are very critical.
Many of my clients force feed mineral during the winter and spring from the feeder wagon as the cows are fed their daily rations. Others on hay and residue diets allow the cows to consume mineral free choice. For many producers this can cause problems. Some cows may consume more than their share while others may not get enough. We even notice that at times and on certain pastures mineral consumption may be very low. For many years we have attempted to control the amount of mineral consumed by addition of salt, a necessity for all cattle.
Most high quality minerals have additional trace minerals. These are very important for metabolic reactions in the animal allowing it to perform normal body functions. They are very important in reproduction and the formation of immunity. Although these minerals are generally chelated to improve absorption there are several situations which interfere with their absorption:
• Hard water is generally high in sulfates and iron. These high levels may disrupt the balance at which other minerals are absorbed.
• Feedstuffs affect the uptake of minerals. We note this problem in cows fed high levels of distiller’s grains.
• Interaction with other minerals when fed at varying levels. These need to be fed in a balanced ratio rather than merely adding high levels of one or another.
Trace minerals are stored in the animal’s body in “pools” which are used as needed for the body’s reactions. Over time these pools may decrease, which decreases the cow’s or calf’s ability to reproduce, form immunity, and fight disease. Normally we think of mineral shortages as brittle bones, poor health and stunted growth.
Our clients have started using an injectable trace mineral product. It is generally used when animals are processed or passed through the chute. Many years ago we had commercially produced products which have been removed from the market. The new product is available by prescription and is readily available It is very dose specific so never inject over the prescribed dose. It is best in larger animals (cow & bulls) to split the dose between two injection sites.
Cow’s milk has virtually no trace minerals. The suckling calf’s reservoirs of trace minerals are becoming depleted at three to four weeks of age. When do we begin to see problems with pneumonia and chronic scour problems? Many producers are administering trace minerals shortly after birth in an attempt to help in the transition from nursing to grass.
Pre-turnout vaccination is good to give an injection of trace mineral to calves. It will help develop better immunity during the pasture phase as well as stimulate growth. Pre-weaning injections will help decrease the weaning stress and transition to feed.
Last spring we had a producer use the product on their heifers and second calvers. They saw a ten percent increase in first cycle conception rates. The treatment was administered several seeks before breeding. It would also follow that an injection of preg-checking would help the developing calf and the colostral formation in the dam.
Bull development and sperm formation are also greatly affected by trace minerals. Injection before breeding should improve your bulls’ ability to produce high quality semen.
Trace minerals are very important to your herd. With injectable products we can now assure they will be readily absorbed in spite of management problems which interfere with oral absorption. Consult with your veterinarian, nutritionalist or extension specialist to form a program which will impact your herd. If you live a Selenium toxic area, use extreme care and consultation before using these products. Careful use of this product will increase the productivity of your herd, allowing you to increase your profits. F
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