Developing a Year-Round Mineral Program
Many producers can take for granted the importance of a well thought out mineral program. The purpose of developing a yearly mineral supplementation program is to help balance the macro and micro mineral requirements of cattle to keep them healthy and maintain optimal performance. However, what is best for one producer’s operation isn’t necessarily what is best for his neighbor.
Here are some factors to consider when deciding what your year-round mineral supplementation program should look like.
- What are your performance expectations for your herd? Are you a seedstock producer that invests lots of time and resources in embryo transfer and artificial insemination or other reproductive protocols? Or do you just have a handful of “hobby” cows that you keep around for fun. These performance expectations have a huge impact on nutritional requirements. When you have higher performance expectations and push your animals to their biological limits, additional fortification is often needed to meet these production goals. For example, this may be the difference in deciding to feed VitaFerm® Concept•Aid® versus VitaFerm Cow-Calf.
- When do you calve? When you calve should dictate when you up the ante on the quality of mineral you provide your animals. Late gestation and early lactation are when a cow’s vitamin and mineral requirements are at their highest as they are impacted by fetal growth, milk production and breeding. Therefore, if you are expected to start calving March 1st, you should start feeding a high-quality breeding mineral like Concept•Aidat least 60 pre-calving and continue through the breeding season to ensure maximum reproductive efficiency.
- What is the climate like where you are located? Weather can significantly impact nutrient requirements. Extreme heat and cold can elevate an animal’s basic maintenance requirements. Vitamin and mineral requirements can also be impacted similarly as extreme weather conditions are a form of a stress. For example, to combat summer’s heat, BioZyme® has developed VitaFerm HEAT® to help animals combat those negative impacts of heat stress and fescue pastures. The best practice is to feed Concept•Aid for at least 60 days prior to breeding, but once the temperature is above 70 degrees you can switch to VitaFerm HEAT. You can use this product throughout the summer and stay on it until the temperature is consistently below 70 degrees or you’re within 60 days of calving.
- What is your total diet and forage quality like? A producer’s entire nutrition program should be considered when selecting a suitable mineral program. If a producer utilizes high concentrate diets with large inclusions of grain, corn silage or grain byproducts, they may need to consider feeding a balancer mineral with higher calcium and lower phosphorus to keep mineral ratios in check. Forage quality (particularly for ruminants) can also have a profound impact on the kind of mineral supplement needed. Since many beef producers use high forage diets, if forage quality is lacking, then a mineral, protein or energy supplementation program may need to make up for some of those deficiencies. Consequently, BioZyme has created a multitude of formulas in some of our most popular product lines to accommodate these different production practices. Some of these options are mineral and/or protein, and all contain Amaferm®, a precision-based prebiotic that enhances digestibility by amplifying nutrient supply, which helps reduce the need for additional energy supplementation and helps maximize performance.
As you can tell, many factors go into selecting a correct mineral program for your herd because every operation is different. They all have unique production goals, access to different resources and varying management practices. All of these can dictate what “kind” of mineral you should be using. For more information on developing a year-round mineral program or if you just want to verify your using the best recommendation for your feeding program, please contact BioZyme or your Area Sales Manager. Click here to find the VitaFerm mineral product that is best for your operation.