Cattle producers have several options when it comes to mineral supplementation. Various brands exist. There are blocks, tubs and loose mineral. But what is the best option for a producer who wants to make sure he or she is getting the most benefit for the money invested?
BioZyme® Inc., makers of VitaFerm® makes both tubs and loose mineral for the cow-calf producer. Kevin Glaubius, Director of Nutrition at BioZyme, points out that not all tubs are created the same. He said the VitaFerm tubs are formulated with a cooked-tub technology that relies on molasses and helps control intake, while other companies use a chemically hardened method adding corn syrup and other ingredients to bind the minerals together.
“The advantage to cooked molasses in the VitaFerm tubs is that the only way to soften the tub is moisture in the air, giving it a unique way to soften and control intake. The cows can lick all day on the tub, but until it softens they are not going to get more of it. If managed correctly, with the right number of cows, our tubs control intake almost by themselves,” Glaubius said.
In cooked tubs, a set amount of a more expensive protein ingredient is often used to ensure proper protein levels are met since space in the formulation is at a premium. And this is where the benefits of a loose protein mineral mix begin. More flexibility in protein ingredients and more formula space exist with a loose, free-choice mineral or protein meal. Since space isn’t restricted to a tub, there are simply more options to choose from. And that tub, although convenient, adds quite a bit of cost too.
“Many producers say they use tubs because they are more convenient. But that plastic container comes with a cost – about $6-7 your cow isn’t consuming. Bags cost less than 50 cents apiece. For every pallet of tubs you’ve bought, you could have bought a new ground mineral feeder to feed the granular product,” Glaubius said.
You are not sacrificing anything if you do offer loose mineral instead of tubs. Many of the same high-quality ingredients are used along with less expensive protein sources in the loose mixes, but since molasses is not in the mix, there is added cost savings. Both tubs and loose mineral have the same nutritional guarantee and producers are saving some money on the packaging of products. The only difference is that the tubs will taste a little sweeter due to the molasses content.
BioZyme offers a loose supplement – VitaFerm Concept•Aid® Protein Meal – a combination of Concept•Aid breeding mineral and natural protein in a meal for beef cattle. In a loose formulation salt is added to control intake. It is specifically designed for reproductive success when fed 60 days pre-calving through 60 days post-breeding. It includes natural protein for when forage quality is low along with Amaferm®, a natural feed additive found in all BioZyme products. Amaferm is a precision prebiotic that amplifies nutrient supply by promoting intake while increasing digestibility and absorption. Amaferm is research-proven to provide a 17% increase in forage utilization.
Producers do have options. A loose vitamin, mineral and protein option will almost always save money for the producer. Both supplement forms (tubs and loose) have the Amaferm advantage and will help maximize the nutrient intake and digestibility in available forages.