Cattle require the right kinds of minerals | News | – Tahlequah Daily Press

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Mineral nutrition is complex because different macro minerals are required as a percentage of diet while micro minerals are required in parts per million (ppm). Forages do not stay the same in mineral composition throughout the year and differ from region to region. Additionally, cattle in different stages of production have different minerals that we must keep in mind.

Minerals that we most often have issues with include sodium, calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, cobalt, copper, and zinc. Minerals are involved in all aspects of the animal’s life. Calcium, phosphorus, and copper are important for bone strength and development. Calcium and magnesium are essential in nerve and muscle function. Phosphorus has roles in energy metabolism, cell membrane structure, and rumen microbe growth and function. Cobalt, copper, and zinc have roles in immune function. Deficiencies of phosphorus, copper, and zinc result in reduced fertility.

Are few points to remember:

• Salt is always deficient in forage-based diets.

• Calcium should be at a 1:1 to 3:1 ratio with phosphorus, but 7:1 can be tolerated.

• Phosphorus is one of the more expensive ingredients in mineral mixtures. It is important not to short on this mineral when it is needed even when the mineral costs more.

• One of the first visible symptoms of a copper deficiency is a dulling of the hair coat, but deficiencies have probably already affected immune function and growth before this sign appears.

• Research shows zinc supplementation improves hoof and eye health.

• Native range pastures are often deficient in sodium, calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, cobalt, copper, and zinc for both growing stockers and cows. A 12 percent calcium, 6 percent phosphorus mineral mixture that also provides highly available micro minerals works well for growing stocker calves. Cows need a 12 percent calcium, 12 percent phosphorus mineral to meet their requirements.

• In well-managed bermudagrass pastures, phosphorus is often only marginally deficient or adequate, but calcium can be variable, ranging from deficient to adequate. Zinc is often sufficient in bermudagrass. In Eastern Oklahoma, highly weathered soils with low pH often results in copper deficiency.

For growing stocker calves and lactating cows, minerals should provide salt – 18 to 20 percent, calcium – 12 percent, and trace minerals from highly available sources such as copper sulfate – copper oxide is not digestible. Phosphorus can be included at lower levels. Red salt blocks – or trace mineralized salt – are not good sources of micro minerals and usually do not provide sufficient mineral concentrations or quality to meet cattle’s needs.

Watch the suggested consumption of minerals fed. Mineral mixtures are available that recommend two ounces per day, but many require four. Monitor mineral consumption to ensure adequate intake. For questions about mineral supplements, call the Cherokee County OSU Extension Office at (918) 456-6163.

Garrett Ford is an agriculture educator for the Cherokee County OSU Extension office.

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