This week was mainly spent getting ready for winter. And it was a good thing too. We received several inches of snow in the last 24 hours and the forecasted high for today was 29 degrees. We winterized what we needed to and brought the last of the cows down to the Mesa pasture. They all wanted to keep coming home, but they will have to stay up there for a while, but this snow should melt soon. In the mean time, I wanted to talk a bit about minerals.
I have mentioned before that we feed mineral to our cows. Like I say, it does exactly what you think it would. It’s a formulated mineral to meet their nutritional needs for their environment and season. The macro minerals are calcium, phosphorus, and potassium and are usually the deciding forces behind which mineral we feed. For example, we feed a 12-12 mineral in the spring/summer which means 12% calcium and 12% phosphorus. We switch them to 12-6 mineral in the fall/winter. We have to try to keep their ratio of calcium to phosphorus between 1.5:1 and 2:1 to keep them from metabolizing calcium and phosphorus from bone. This results in less bone growth, brittle bones, or kidney stones. Potassium is usually in good supply in the grass they eat so we don’t worry about it too much.
Trace minerals that are fed include copper, magnesium, selenium, cobalt, iodine, manganese, and zinc. We focus particularly on copper because our pastures tend to be deficient in it. Copper is fairly easy to diagnose because a deficiency results in brown hair. However, if they have a smaller deficiency, the liver biopsies that we took a few weeks ago should help to tell us that. Trace minerals add another layer of difficulty because you can have too much trace minerals and cause a toxicity.
Some of these minerals interact with each other and can make shortages of other minerals even if there are plenty in their diet. For example, too much magnesium can reduce absorption of copper. We try to buy chelated copper to avoid this. The chelated form of copper bypasses the rumen and can be absorbed more directly. We try to keep these interactions in mind and use the best mineral that we can. Our cows have mineral fed to them most of the year except when they run in pastures with neighbors’ cattle.
I hope that this helps explain how we deal with supplemental mineral in our herd. It helps to keep them healthy and perform better. Also, the beef for the October deliver is at the processor. If you missed out and want to get in on the next order, we are putting together another one for December. Send us a message or give me a call if you want to have some quality beef! I hope your week goes well and you all didn’t get too wet from the storm that passed through.
by Brandon Greet