October 14, 2016 - Are You Getting What You Pay For In Your Mineral?



Friday, October 14, 2016 - Ranchers on average pay around $1,000 per ton for their mineral supplementation program, which equates to about $35 per head per year. Given the costs of these mineral supplements - and the multitude of options available - it is imperative to choose the right minerals that will deliver their desired nutritional benefits.

Mineral supplementation programs are designed to help balance the macro and micro mineral requirements of cattle. Macro minerals include calcium, phosphorous, etc., while micro mineral requirements include trace minerals and vitamins. Mineral supplementation programs can also function as delivery methods for feed additives - including probiotics, yeast, yeast cultures, etc. - that may be used to enhance production or reduce losses.

In recent years, the industry has learned that the source of ingredients utilized in mineral supplementation programs can have a negative impact on the effectiveness of the additives supplied in the mineral and the production results of the animal.

Here are some things to keep in mind when selecting the trace mineral components for a mineral supplementation program:

Feeding a trace mineral source that has low solubility in the rumen is an important part to the efficacy of a successful mineral supplementation program. This characteristic allows for the mineral to be more effectively utilized in biological processes (i.e., enzymatic activity) or storage. There are a large number of antagonists (iron, sulfur, molybdenum, etc.) that exist in the rumen, which can impact mineral absorption.

Vitamin nutrition is also important for animal productivity. However, sulfate sources of trace minerals can act as powerful prooxidants within the mineral supplement. It can be hypothesized that the source of trace minerals can degrade the stability of vitamins within the mineral mix.

Don't overlook the effect that weather events can have on free-choice minerals. Studies have demonstrated that after a 4-inch simulated precipitation event, total copper, zinc and manganese losses were less for hydroxychloride sources than for sulfate and organic trace mineral sources. This suggests that the amount of actual mineral consumed per ounce of free-choice mineral is less, but that the formulated ratios (i.e., zinc : copper) are impacted as well.

Finally, the goal of any grazing program is to maximize the use of the available forage. Therefore, whatever ranchers feed should not inhibit the ability of bacteria in the rumen to digest the basal diet. When evaluating a supplemental mineral program, trace mineral source cannot only impact the animal, but can also impact other key components within that program.

When it comes to mineral supplementation, keep in mind that not all mineral sources are created equally. Making the extra investment on a better source of trace minerals will provide significant paybacks in the end.

COMMENT: To me, this article exposes many of the pitfalls of self-feeding a one-bag-fits-all mineral. Using Advanced Biological Concepts’ cafeteria style mineral programs avoid most of these problems. Give us a call - we can help!

Learn more here