Try these minerals on for size |

Try these minerals on for size

Vet's Voice

This warm weather has certainly got the prairie grass's attention after the six plus inches of rain in our area. On my way to work this morning I actually saw some first cutting alfalfa in the windrow. It certainly appears feed will be adequate, at least early this summer. This lush rapidly growing grass highlights the need for supplemental mineral in our cow herds. For many of my producers, mineral is the only feedstuff they routinely purchase.

Mineral supplements vary in price, but usually you get what you pay for. Supplementation programs need to match the forages and feedstuffs being utilized by your cows at different stages of the cows' life cycle. No one program is right for every producer and careful care should be taken to match the mineral program to your cow-calf production system.

Mineral research is difficult because they interact with one another and can be stored in the body for prolonged intervals. Calcium (Ca) and phosphorous (P) are stored in bone. These two minerals are the basis of most mineral mixes. If severely depleted, the cow may mobilize them from bone. Try to never overfeed P as it is the most expensive of mineral supplements. Many times if cows are on hard water, they will consume very little minerals. Many microminerals are stored in the liver. Copper (Cu) is an example and is utilized in many of the body's metabolic reactions. The liver releases Cu readily and is unable to store it for long periods of time. Therefore it should be readily available at all times. Our friends in Nebraska have found feeding additional copper helps in minimizing Clostridial infections, but remember, "don't try this on your sheep." Excess molybdenum (Mo) negatively affects copper absorption. High potassium (K) has a negative impact on magnesium (Mg) uptake. This is why cows may still break with grass tetany in spite of Mg supplementation.

Several things are important to a functional mineral program:

• Adequate protein needs to be consumed by the cow to enable the transfer, metabolism, and absorption of minerals in the intestine.

• Know the cow's requirements as she transitions from one phase of production to the next.

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• Understand the minerals provided in the base diet of the cows. Your extension specialist is a valuable source for these values. They have collected samples from many farms and ranches to provide meaningful data for your area and don't forget the water. If you are feeding harvested forages, it is best to collect feed samples and balance your mineral program.

Mineral supplementation programs should be simple, economical and dynamic, changes with phases of production and changing diets. Salt should always be available for the herd. Your program doesn't need to be complicated, but must meet the specific needs of your herd. If you can improve conception through a better mineral program, it is certainly money well spent. SDSU Extension is a great source for forage values as well as formulation of minerals. Consult your extension specialist or visit IGrow on your computer. Careful management of your mineral program will increase the efficiency of your herd and bring you increased profitability.