Cattle

How to Avoid Cattle Mineral Deficiency

Nutrition : Minerals

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Purina Animal Nutrition

Your cattle have been slightly off for the past several months, but you can’t figure out why. You have not changed your herd management, but cattle are not achieving the performance you expect. What is going on?

It could be a trace mineral deficiency in cattle.

Although needed in only small amounts, trace minerals can make a significant impact on your herd’s performance, including reproduction and immunity, both of which affect your bottom line.

Downfalls of cattle mineral deficiency

Some early abortions and embryonic deaths are due to trace mineral deficiencies of the mother. The mother’s trace mineral deficiency can also lead to deficiencies in colostrum for her calf and the potential for early calf death.

Early abortions and calf deaths mean fewer animals to sell when it is time to take the cattle to market. This means fewer dollars in your pocket, and the potential economic impact may extend further.

Instead of having a 90 percent conception rate, we’ll often see lower conception rates in herds with trace mineral deficiencies. Cattle simply don’t perform as well without the adequate minerals.

A trace mineral deficiency in cattle can go undetected for some time, but one critical deficiency can cause sudden death in cattle.

If you’re grazing cool-season forages, magnesium deficiency can cause sudden death in cattle. Most producers are aware when they need a high level of magnesium in the diet. But, if a producer is unaware, this deficiency can have a sudden, negative impact on the herd.

Complete mineral, correct amount

If you are not feeding mineral at all or believe that “any” mineral is enough to prevent a mineral deficiency in cattle, it’s time to rethink your strategy.

If you’re not providing a complete cattle mineral, or cattle don’t eat enough mineral, they can become deficient. Not all minerals are palatable. If cattle aren’t consuming mineral at target intake levels, then they’re not meeting their mineral needs.

Another challenge can be taking the time to figure out how much cattle mineral is being consumed.
Too often producers guess how much mineral cows are consuming, but they can’t know how much they’re eating unless they take the time to calculate intake.

Identifying mineral deficiency in cattle

Animals with trace mineral deficiencies typically don’t show clinical signs. Most of the time, it’s an off-color coat and looking at production records. But, it’s easy to blame appearance or performance on something else instead of a trace mineral deficiency.

The following are common signs of trace mineral deficiency in cattle:
  • Off-color coat
  • Poor calf immunity
  • Reduced weight gain
  • Reduced reproductive efficiency
 
Because trace mineral deficiencies are hard to detect, discovery often comes from using the process of elimination. Liver biopsies can also help pinpoint a trace mineral deficiency in cattle.

Proactive vs. reactive

The good news? Being proactive can help you avoid a deficiency. One way to avoid finding yourself in this situation is to provide a complete, quality cattle mineral, such as Purina cattle mineral, to the herd year-round.
Talk with your local veterinarian or nutritionist to learn if your mineral is providing the right trace amounts for your area.

If you suspect a trace mineral deficiency in cattle, start using a complete cattle mineral right away; however, don’t provide additional salt because salt will dilute the mineral, and cattle won’t get the recommended trace mineral amounts. A complete cattle mineral will provide plenty of salt.

If you do have a deficiency, it won’t be a quick fix. It will take several months of consistent mineral intake to get the herd back on track. The best way to make sure a deficiency doesn’t sneak up on your herd is to offer a complete cattle mineral at all times.

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