- Jin Gan
Dispelling Four Cattle Mineral Myths
Here are 4 common myths regarding the consumption of minerals for dairy cattle:
Myth 1: Cattle mineral is too expensive
Most farmers focus on the cost of feeding mineral supplement to the animals. However, they should also take into consideration the cost of NOT feeding minerals. The performance of cattle would definitely be affected.
Research shows that feeding organic minerals to cattle will increase conception rate, improve reproductive performance, improve growth rates, and improve the overall health of the animal.
Investing in mineral would definitely help improve the performance of the animals.
Myth 2: Cows won't eat minerals or they overeat minerals
Generally, over consumption of minerals can occur when the minerals are not well balanced. A classic example is phosphorus imbalance. Phosphorus is an expensive mineral ingredient, hence, it is normal to see most minerals with lower phosphorus levels. Often times, cows crave phosphorus and they will over consume until they are satisfied.
In order to avoid this problem, a palatable, well balanced mineral will help overcome this problem. Finding the right amount of mineral takes some effort, but the pay off is worth it.
Mineral consumption can also be controlled through management. If the cows are not eating sufficient minerals, place mineral feeders or tubs closer to loafing areas and water sources. On the other hand, if the cattle are overeating, move the mineral sources away from these areas.
Myth 3: Herd is either too small or too large to incorporate mineral consumption
When herds are small, confined pastures will be smaller and thus cattle may eat mineral out of boredom and this will cause over consumption. It is advised to evaluate different mineral forms. For example, consider using a cooked tub mineral instead of a loose mineral to help control intake.
On the other hand, when herd is large, means more spacious pastures. When pastures are too large, mineral sources will be limited and therefore, there is a possibility of under eating minerals. It is recommended to use appropriate number of mineral feeders for the number of cattle. One feeder for ever 20 - 30 head is a good target to aim for.
Myth 4: Mineral is not required in my farm
Often times, farmers think they do not require minerals for their herd because they have great grass quality. However, bear in mind that grass quality can change from month-to-month or year-to-year. As the grass dries down, mineral level will drop drastically. When grass dries down, lignin also increases.
Bear in mind, even though forage test might show that basic mineral requirements are met, it does not mean that the cattle mineral requirements are met. Recommendations and requirements are two different things.