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Is Your Cattle Mineral Program Working?

Jul 01, 2020

The fuel gauge quickly tells you when your truck needs more gas to keep running, but it’s not that simple to gauge your cow’s nutritional needs. Use these questions to determine if your cattle mineral program is helping your cows achieve reproductive success. Contact your River Valley Cooperative livestock specialist for additional information on cattle mineral or Purina products.

1. How much cattle mineral should I feed?

Weather, forage quality and seasonality all impact cattle mineral consumption. On average, cattle should consume four ounces of mineral per head per day. Your cattle mineral should contain a proper balance of all 14 essential macro and micro minerals to help address forage deficiencies and meet cattle nutrition requirements year-round. Both loose cattle mineral and mineral tubs can meet these requirements.

2. Should I Feed Cattle Mineral Seasonally or Year-Round?  

Feed cattle mineral year-round for optimal breeding results. Constant access to mineral helps guarantee cattle nutrition, despite seasonal changes in forage quality. Just because you commit to a year-round mineral program doesn’t mean you have to use the same formula of mineral all year long. In fact, you can switch up mineral formulas to meet seasonal needs. You might use Wind and Rain® Fly Control Mineral to combat seasonal horn flies, or Wind and Rain® Hi Mag Mineral when cattle are at risk for grass tetany.  

3. What Does Cattle Mineral Deficiency Look Like? 

Outward appearance says a lot. Take a critical look at your cattle mineral program if you notice any signs of mineral deficiency, including:
  • Cattle look rough overall
  • Dull, rough haircoat
  • Cloudy, watery eyes
  • Whites of eyes look yellow
  • Lethargic, discontent or uneasy disposition
  • Considerable physical variation between cows
If some cows look good and others don’t, it could mean you aren’t offering enough mineral, or the mineral isn’t palatable, causing reduced intake.

4. How Do I Know If My Cattle Mineral Program Is Affecting Breeding Results?

This gets tricky. You might think your breeding program is working just fine, but it’s possible your cows aren’t living up to their full potential. Don’t settle for just OK.

Ask yourself the following:
  • Are cows breeding back?
  • How many cows breed back in the first heat cycle?
  • Is the breeding season longer than 85 days?
  • Are conception rates over 90 percent?
When cows aren’t efficiently breeding back and staying bred, your calving season gets longer, affecting your calf crop uniformity and your bottom line. Break the cycle by providing a proven cattle mineral, like Wind and Rain®Mineral.

Kent Tjardes, Ph.D., Field Cattle Consultant

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