Four Black Beef Cattle on Pasture

Mineral Management for Grazing Beef Cattle

Mineral supplementation is an important part of a grazing beef cattle diet. Adequate mineral supply encourages a healthy immune response, weight gain in calves, and reproductive efficiency. When cattle are grazing, they require different mineral concentrations compared with grain-fed cattle. These requirements are partially dependent on the quality of the pasture, although most free-choice minerals are formulated to supply those minerals based on geographical regions. 

Free-Choice Mineral

A free-choice mineral allows grazing cattle to balance their mineral requirements while consuming their pasture-based diet. These are loose minerals placed in an open or flapped container on a pasture. The container should allow the cattle ample opportunities to access the mineral. The consumption of these minerals will be intermittent while the cattle are grazing.

Weatherization

weather and wind A major consideration for supplying minerals to grazing cattle is protecting them from the weather and climate. This depends on the geographical region and whether or not the mineral feeder protects minerals well against bad weather and harsh climates. Providing a weatherized free-choice mineral is necessary if the mineral feeder is not adequate to protect that mineral supply or is unable to be moved to provide that protection.

kalmbach midwest all season 7 mineral medicated beef mineralWeatherization of minerals is a method used to protect the minerals from bad weather. Free-choice minerals can be blown by strong winds, clump and brick when wet, and leach out from the feeders when rained on. This directly leads to economic losses for the farmer, reduced mineral supply to the cattle, and contributes to environmental concerns. The weatherization technology and coating, DryGuardTM developed by Kalmbach Feeds, is designed to withstand strong winds, heavy rain and snow, and temperature changes, without interrupting intake and palatability. The technology from DryGuardTM sheds water, prevents clumping, and reduces wastage, which makes the mineral easy to handle, easy to feed, and readily consumed by cattle.

Managing Free-Choice Minerals

Managing the minerals on pasture can be simple and beneficial. There are some items to consider for optimizing mineral supplementation:

  1. Follow the feeding directions on the tag
  2. Provide enough feeding stations and area for cattle to consume the mineral (i.e. ~30 head/mineral feeder)
  3. Place the mineral feeders near watering areas to increase and encourage intake, but also provide some away from the water source to encourage grazing distribution and in shaded areas
  4. Providing mineral feeders near the ground to encourage intake and reduce spillage
  5. Keep mineral feeders clean and filled once a week
See also  Trimming Your Goat’s Hooves

Mineral supplementation can be limited by several factors if not managed well:

  1. Limiting or making it difficult to access the mineral
  2. Too few mineral feeders per number of animals or watering locations
  3. Checking mineral status due to weather occurrences
  4. Not filling the mineral feeders often enough

Selecting the Right Free-Choice Mineral

Selecting the mineral that fits the herd, region, and needs is essential to a successful mineral supplementation program. Below is a tabled list of the mineral line offered by Kalmbach Feeds with their targeted application and feeding rates. If the mineral rate calls for 4 oz per head/day, then that means 100 cattle would consume 25 lbs. of mineral in a day. So, a full bag of mineral would last 2 days at that size of herd. Being conscious of that feeding rate will allow better management of the mineral supply and keep the feeders fresh with mineral to support the whole herd.

Kalmbach Feeds’ mineral line does not require added salt. There are other management methods to control incorrect intake of the mineral per head of cattle. If there is a lower intake than desired, check the location, availability, and height of mineral feeders. If there is an excessive intake then move the feeders further away from the water sources or high traffic areas. Salt can be added if those are not correcting the problem, but it is always advisable to mix the salt in with the mineral being used and not feed it separately.

Mid-Atlantic Dry-Guard™

(Medicated options of each product are available with Altosid® insect growth regulator)

See also  This is Wyandot Co. 2017

Product

Description

Application

Feeding Level

5204AAS

All Season

High level of vitamin A for cattle on harvested forage or dormant pasture

4 oz/head/day

5204AFE

All Season Fescue Mineral with Tasco®

To help alleviate the negative effects of grazing endophyte-infected fescue

4 oz/head/day

5204AHM

Hi-Mag

High magnesium at 12% to help prevent grass tetany on fresh pasture

4 oz/head/day

5206ABR

Breeder

To maximize reproductive efficiency and herd health

4 oz/head/day

Midwest Dry-Guard™

(Medicated options of each product are available with Altosid® insect growth regulator)

Product

Description

Application

Feeding Level

5107MAS

All Season 7 

High level of vitamin A for cattle on harvested forage or dormant pasture

4 oz/head/day

5107MFE

All Season 7 Fescue Mineral with Tasco®

To help alleviate the negative effects of grazing endophyte-infected fescue

4 oz/head/day

5104MHM

Hi-Mag

High magnesium at 10% to help prevent grass tetany on fresh pasture

4 oz/head/day

5175MBR

7.5 Breeder Availa-4

Fortified with chelated trace minerals for optimal reproductive performance and immune function

4 oz/head/day

Free-Choice Mineral

Product

Description

Application

Feeding Level

510FC

Beef Mineral

For beef cattle on pasture in all stages of production

4 oz/head/day

5556

Pasture/Feedlot Mineral

To supplement the diets of feedlot and pasture cattle to balance deficiencies from diet

4 oz/head/day

515MAG

Hi-Mag

High magnesium at 12% to help prevent grass tetany on fresh pasture

4 oz/head/day

551

Breeder Show Stock

To supplement the diets of breeding and growing cattle to maximize reproductive efficiency, increase disease resistance, and optimize growth and development

4 oz/head/day

5500CBP

Corn By-Product Supplement

Medicated supplement for dairy beef calves and feedlot cattle for improved feed efficiency

5-10 oz/head/day

Choosing the Hi-Mag mineral that fits well with in the geographical region is essential during fast-growing pasture season. Cows are at or near peak lactation during this time and require additional magnesium. The cows’ requirement problem is worsened by the reduced availability of magnesium present in the forage, which results from increased nitrogen and potassium content of the fast-growing forage. The will result in grass tetany, especially for older cows, which results in staggering, convulsions, milk reduction, and death. One solution is to limit access to pastures that have recently been fertilized or after manure applications. However, the best solution is to provide a Hi-Mag mineral with 10-15% magnesium content. The best feeding management of these Hi-Mag minerals is to provide them a few weeks prior to the start of the growing season and a couple weeks after when temperatures are consistently above 60°F.

See also  Backyard Poultry: More than Just Chickens

Weekly supply of mineral needed per herd size based on feeding rate.

 

2 oz/head/day

4 oz/head/day

6 oz/head/day

Herd Size

—————— lbs./week of mineral ——————

25

22

44

66

50

44

88

132

100

88

175

263

150

131

263

395

200

175

350

525

Mineral Block or Tub for Grazing Cattle

kalmbach feeds high mag block for beef cattleSometimes providing cattle with free-choice mineral for the first time will make those cattle overconsume the mineral. This can occur during the spring when the pasture is fresh and growing fast, which causes grass tetany. A good transition is to utilize a mineral block or tub. Kalmbach Feeds offers a 40 lbs. Hi-Mag Beef Block and 200 lbs. Hi-Mag Tub with additional magnesium that will help 2-fold: 1) minimize the risk of grass tetany with the high magnesium and 2) keep the cattle from overconsuming mineral. 

kalmbach thermo-lix 24-16 beef mineral tubThe recommendations are to provide a single block for every 5-15 cattle to consume 4 oz per head/day and to provide a single tub for every 25-35 cattle to consume 0.5-1.0 lbs. per head/day. After the season, one of the above lower-magnesium, free-choice minerals can be utilized. If there is desire to continue use of these blocks or tubs, make sure there is ample amount for consumption.

Jeff Kaufman, Ph.D., PAS

Jeff Kaufman, Ph.D., PAS