Winter Mineral Supplementation

(Chris) I’m Chris Reinhardt, Extension Beef Specialist with Kansas State University. We’ve been traveling around the state the past couple of months talking with producers about key issues. We call it the Winter Ranch Management Series. We’re trying to cover everything that a commercial cow/calf producer in the state of Kansas might have concerns with specific respect to this winter. In my case I’m talking about winter, year around supplementation of mineral and that would include both the macro minerals as well as trace mineral supplementation. In the wintertime when we’re feeding cows, especially if we’re feeding supplemental feed, good quality hay, and supplemental feeds such as distillers grain, gluten feed, soybean meal, things of that nature. They’ve got a tremendous amount of phosphorus as does corn, sorghum and silages. But what we still want to make sure we’re supplementing are the trace minerals because trace minerals that are passed to the calf through the placenta is really all that calf is going to be born with. And unfortunately Mother’s milk carries very little if any trace mineral nutrition whatsoever. So, until that calf is old enough to start consuming good quality forage and supplement and supplemental feed and maybe mineral, that calf is going to have to rely on the storage of trace minerals that it has in its liver and other places. It’s going to draw off those stores. And so we’ve got to be cognizant to supplement trace minerals to the cow throughout gestation up until and through calving time. Other times of the year that are critical is in the spring of the year, our native forage, if we get ample rainfall, our native forage in Kansas, all across Kansas, is a tremendous source of both protein energy as well as minerals. However in late summer after the rains shut off, grass will harden up, mineral content wanes and so at the very time we’re approaching weaning time when we’re hoping that calf is loaded with trace minerals is the very same time when the forage is supplying less and less. And so, we’ve got to make sure to supply both the cow and the calf during that period number one to make sure that cow breeds and settles, but then number two to make sure that calf is weaned during that stressful transition and has an adequate supply of trace minerals both in its feeds as well as in its storage. There’s a number of forms that minerals, both trace minerals and macro minerals like phosphorus and calcium can be supplemented to cows, and calves whether that be in the form of loose mineral or block form. One thing that we’ve noticed is we want to make sure in the spring of the year when grass is really rapidly growing and lush and loaded with lots of good nutrients, magnesium deficiency or grass tetany can occur. Two minerals we want to pay special attention to. If that’s a critical concern in your area, seek out the counsel of your nutritionist and veterinarian to make sure. But if we’re in a grass tetany area, we want to make sure we get magnesium to those cows in the form of a high mag mineral. But we also want loose salt available. There’s recent data that’s come out just in the past year or so that says if cows are adequate and have abundant access to salt, loose salt and water to help dilute out that salt, as well as the magnesium, it can be very effective in preventing issues of grass tetany in the spring of the year.

(Chris) I’m Chris Reinhardt, Extension Beef Specialist with Kansas State University. We’ve been traveling around the state the past couple of months talking with producers about key issues. We call it the Winter Ranch Management Series. We’re trying to cover everything that a commercial cow/calf producer in the state of Kansas might have concerns with specific respect to this winter. In my case I’m talking about winter, year around supplementation of mineral and that would include both the macro minerals as well as trace mineral supplementation. In the wintertime when we’re feeding cows, especially if we’re feeding supplemental feed, good quality hay, and supplemental feeds such as distillers grain, gluten feed, soybean meal, things of that nature. They’ve got a tremendous amount of phosphorus as does corn, sorghum and silages. But what we still want to make sure we’re supplementing are the trace minerals because trace minerals that are passed to the calf through the placenta is really all that calf is going to be born with. And unfortunately Mother’s milk carries very little if any trace mineral nutrition whatsoever. So, until that calf is old enough to start consuming good quality forage and supplement and supplemental feed and maybe mineral, that calf is going to have to rely on the storage of trace minerals that it has in its liver and other places. It’s going to draw off those stores. And so we’ve got to be cognizant to supplement trace minerals to the cow throughout gestation up until and through calving time. Other times of the year that are critical is in the spring of the year, our native forage, if we get ample rainfall, our native forage in Kansas, all across Kansas, is a tremendous source of both protein energy as well as minerals. However in late summer after the rains shut off, grass will harden up, mineral content wanes and so at the very time we’re approaching weaning time when we’re hoping that calf is loaded with trace minerals is the very same time when the forage is supplying less and less. And so, we’ve got to make sure to supply both the cow and the calf during that period number one to make sure that cow breeds and settles, but then number two to make sure that calf is weaned during that stressful transition and has an adequate supply of trace minerals both in its feeds as well as in its storage. There’s a number of forms that minerals, both trace minerals and macro minerals like phosphorus and calcium can be supplemented to cows, and calves whether that be in the form of loose mineral or block form. One thing that we’ve noticed is we want to make sure in the spring of the year when grass is really rapidly growing and lush and loaded with lots of good nutrients, magnesium deficiency or grass tetany can occur. Two minerals we want to pay special attention to. If that’s a critical concern in your area, seek out the counsel of your nutritionist and veterinarian to make sure. But if we’re in a grass tetany area, we want to make sure we get magnesium to those cows in the form of a high mag mineral. But we also want loose salt available. There’s recent data that’s come out just in the past year or so that says if cows are adequate and have abundant access to salt, loose salt and water to help dilute out that salt, as well as the magnesium, it can be very effective in preventing issues of grass tetany in the spring of the year.

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