From the June issue of Cow/Calf Producer.

Steve Boyles, beef specialist with Ohio State University Extension, and Shane Gadberry, associate professor at the University of Arkansas, share mineral advice specific to certain situations.

Magnesium deficiency — If faced with this situation, check magnesium levels but also check other minerals that can affect magnesium absorption, Boyles suggests. He notes that high levels of potassium often exist in many forages, as well as poultry litter used for fertilization — and potassium can interfere with magnesium absorption. Thus, he suggests checking forage levels for potassium in addition to magnesium.

Copper — As calves become less dependent on the dam for milk, producers may see reduced growth.  This growth response may be related to endophyte in fescue, but Boyles suggests also checking for a copper deficiency since it can illicit reduced growth in calves as well.

Other considerations

  • Give heifers some special attention. Boyles advises that heifers being fed grain supplement may need a mineral supplement that looks more like what you are feeding steers and is higher in calcium than the mineral you might traditionally feed to cows. He re-emphasizes, “Work with your local Extension service or feed representative to develop a nutrition program suited to your needs.”
  • More, not better. Gadberry  warns, “One concern I have today is super mineral programs with cows that are on a good plane of nutrition being fed a ‘breeder mineral’ that is higher in trace minerals and a combination of inorganic and organic source, as well as stacking mineral injections on top of the program. Too much isn’t always a good thing.”
  • Track the details. Regarding good mineral management, Gadberry advises that producers don’t overlook the following basics: 1) keep mineral out regularly; 2) don’t put out free-choice white salt in addition to a complete mineral package that already includes salt; 3) be sure to target adequate levels of trace minerals; 4) monitor mineral consumption rates in the herd throughout the year; and 5) track how much is being spent annually for mineral supplementation.

Click here to read "Manage for Minerals" from the June issue of Cow/Calf Producer.