By: Mark Landefeld, Ohio State Extension Educator
Measuring the consequences of mineral deficiencies in cow-calf operations can be difficult. Weight gains, which are off a few pounds usually go unnoticed, reduced milk production can’t really be measured in beef cows, and the cow that is limping must have stepped on something causing her sore foot. Reproduction losses may not readily be noticed either because most all the cows had a calf, even though some were a month and a half or two months later than expected. Any of these sound familiar? Lack of sufficient mineral(s) may be the problem.
Think about this. If you have one open cow, or animals not calving on expected calving dates, due to insufficient minerals in the feed, you could have easily paid for many bags of minerals with the loss you have incurred. One calf not born; ($1000-$1500 lost, plus feeding momma all year), one calf twenty-one days late; (a calf gaining two lbs./day would be 42 pounds x $2.00 per pound = $84 lost) per missed heat cycle.
Mineral supplementation should not be done haphazardly though in cow-calf operations. Producers need to monitor mineral consumption regularly to be sure cows are consuming proper amounts. Directions on each product’s bag should indicate how much each animal should consume in a given amount of time.
It is much easier and more cost effective to proactively manage cattle to prevent mineral deficiencies than trying to pinpoint production problems caused by deficits. Adequate minerals and nutrition should not be overlooked. You are paying for it one way or the other! Proper minerals and nutrition just makes “cents,” actually dollars, and several of them for the understanding producer.