How to Determine The Best Mineral Supplements for Beef Cattle
Every type of beef cattle operations need mineral supplements to produce a premium product. Some minerals are more important than others. Good nutrition has a great impact on breeding. Phosphorus and Calcium are important minerals for all types of cattle.
Cattle producers are always looking for ways to raise a premium product and still have a profit. One way to build a good foundation in a herd of cattle is to supply them with good supplements. Each type of operation: commercial cow/calf, seedstock producer, purebred breeder or embryo transfer programs can benefit from mineral supplements.
In a commercial cow/calf operation it is important to take care of the cow in order to maintain an inventory of calves to sell each year. The mature cow needs a diet that provides her with energy, protein, minerals and vitamins. It is important to understand the nutrients she has available in her complete diet. For example, if she is fed a corn base feed, she will be getting phosphorus from the corn and should not require as much in her mineral supplement as a cow fed another type of feed.
Some producers raise cattle to supply other operators with seedstock they need for certain genetics. Again, the complete diet is important in calculating the proper mineral supplements. The stock needs to be extremely healthy during breeding season. For example, adequate amounts of selenium are needed for the cow to breed. A high conception rate is the key to making a profit in this type of operation.
Females bred to the same breed of males produce purebreds. Using mineral supplements can improve reproduction and calf gain. The characteristics of a particular breed are dominated in purebreds. Using cross breeding to gain muscle, etc is not possible in purebreds. The only way to improve the general make up of the cattle has to be done by external factors such as good nutrition including mineral supplements.
Even if the cattle producer is using an embryo transfer, he must keep the sire healthy in order for her to birth a healthy calf. A pregnant or lactating female requires different nutrient levels than a dry cow.
Each year a cow should breed and raise a calf. Calcium and Phosphorus are the most important minerals to keep healthy and product healthy calves. The calcium level should be around 15%-18% with phosphorus at least 7%. Most mineral supplements will have salt, look for one that is less than 25% salt. Otherwise, you could be paying for plain salt with a fancy name and pretty package. Remember salt is cheap in comparison to phosphorus. The phosphorus will be the most expensive ingredient, so use that to compare the costs. Next, you will need some trace minerals and vitamins. Again, take the complete diet in consideration. For example, if the animal is being fed alfalfa pellets or is grazing on green pasture, it is not necessary to get a mineral supplement with large amounts of vitamin A. Spend your money on the higher levels of zinc, copper, and selenium. These trace minerals will help in the reproduction of your cattle. The feeding directions of the mineral should read between 2 and 4 ounces per head per day. If the consumption has to be higher, the mineral is not as balanced or it is formulated to use with weak feed rations. To get the optimum production in any type of cow herd you must provide balance nutrients, energy, protein, minerals, and vitamins.