Mineral nutrition is complex, with various macro minerals (required as a percentage of the diet) and microminerals (required in ppm of the diet) of importance. Our feed also does not stay the same in mineral composition all year round and differs depending on the region of the state. In addition, at different stages of production, cattle have different minerals that we need to keep an eye on.

The most common minerals we have problems with include sodium (provided by salt), calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, cobalt, copper, and zinc. Minerals are involved in all aspects of the animal’s life. Calcium, phosphorus and copper are important for bone strength and development. Calcium and magnesium are essential for nerve and muscle function. Phosphorus plays a role in energy metabolism, cell membrane structure and the growth and function of rumen microbes. Cobalt, copper and zinc play a role in immune function. A lack of phosphorus, copper and zinc leads to decreased fertility.

  • Salt is always deficient in a feed-based diet.
  • Calcium should be in a 1: 1 to 3: 1 ratio to phosphorus, but 7: 1 can be tolerated.
  • Phosphorus is one of the more expensive ingredients in mineral mixes. It is important not to miss out on this mineral when it is needed, even if the mineral costs more!
  • One of the first visible symptoms of copper deficiency is dull hair, but deficiencies are likely to have compromised immune function and growth before this sign appears.
  • Research shows that zinc supplementation improves hoof and eye health.

Domestic pastures are often deficient in sodium, calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, cobalt, copper, and zinc for both growing stockers and cows. A mineral mixture of 12% calcium and 6% phosphorus, which provides highly available micro-minerals, is well suited for growing calves. Cows need a mineral of 12% calcium and 12% phosphorus to meet their needs.

In well-managed Bermuda grass pastures, phosphorus is often only slightly deficient or sufficient, but calcium can be variable, ranging from deficient to adequate. Zinc is often sufficient in Bermuda grass. In Eastern Oklahoma, severely weathered, low pH soils and mineral antagonists (molybdenum is a major culprit) often lead to copper deficiencies. For growing calves and lactating cows, minerals should provide salt (18 to 20%), calcium (12%) and trace elements from highly available sources such as copper sulfate (copper oxide is not digestible). Phosphorus can be contained in smaller amounts.

  • Red blocks of salt (or mineralized trace salt) are not good sources of micro-minerals and usually do not provide sufficient mineral concentration or quality to meet cattle needs.
  • Pay attention to the recommended intake of minerals. Mineral blends are available that recommend a 2 ounce daily intake, but many require a 4 ounce intake. Monitor mineral consumption to ensure adequate intake.

Source: Oklahoma State University, which is solely responsible for the information provided and is entirely owned by the source. Informa Business Media and any of its subsidiaries are not responsible for the contents of this information stock.