The Importance of Mineral Supplementation

The major nutrient requirements for livestock are: water, energy, protein, minerals and vitamins. In many cases, producers do a good job of providing enough water and adequate energy and protein sources. However, many producers fall short in providing the best nutritional program possible by purchasing “cheap” vitamin and mineral source or failing to provide a vitamin and mineral source at all. Mineral nutrition for the cow is important year-round, but is particularly important during late gestation, calving and re-breeding. Management of the maternal unit throughout gestation and lactation not only impacts her productivity, but the performance and efficiency of her calf as well.

Why do animals need a good mineral program?

All animals have a defined set of nutritional needs. When nutrients run out, that is where performance stops. Minerals are an important component of these nutritional needs, and there is a delicate balance that is needed for maximize biological efficiency to be realized. Selecting the correct mineral supplement is essential for maintaining healthy animals, optimal growth and improved reproduction efficiency.

Nutritionally speaking, animals require two types of mineral: macro and trace minerals.

  1. Macro minerals – required in concentrations greater than 100 ppm
    • Ca, P, K, Mg, S, Na, and Cl
  1. Trace minerals – required in concentrations less than 100 ppm
    • Co, Cu, I, Mn, Se, Fe, and Zn

How to select a mineral program?

There are many things to take into consideration when selecting a mineral program that is appropriate for your operation.

  • Type of forages available and season
  • Grains and by-products fed
  • Ca:P ratio
  • Salt level
  • Level of trace minerals
  • Additives
  • Bioavailability
  • Performance goals of the operation

VitaFerm® is available in several different mineral formulations to meet the needs of a wide variety of production scenarios.

Are all minerals created equal?

NO! Minerals can come in organic and inorganic forms. Organic minerals are more bioavailable than inorganic minerals. This means that the more bioavailable a mineral is, the lower concentration that is needed to meet animal requirements.

VitaFerm minerals contain organic trace minerals called proteinates. Proteinates are the most bioavailable and stable mineral form on the market.

How much does a good mineral program cost?

A mineral program could cost anywhere from $20-40 per head annually, but feed additives included in some mineral mixes (i.e. Rumensin, Bovatec, Amaferm, etc.) can add $15-20, annually.

Let’s say a good mineral program costs $30 per bag ($1,200 per ton). For some, it may seem expensive and some producers may be tempted to buy the cheapest mineral possible. But let’s do some math to show why a cheap mineral program doesn’t always pay!

  • At a 4 ounce per day intake, the mineral only costs $.15 per day.
    • $1,200 per ton ÷ 2000 pounds = $.60 per pound
    • $.60 per pound × .25 [4 ounces = .25 pounds] = $.15 per day
  • The cost per year would be $54.75.
    • $.15 per day × 365 = $54.75 per year
  • Let’s say the cows nutritional needs are not being met because she is consuming a “cheap” mineral source, and doesn’t conceive on her first time coming back in to heat.
    • Assume the price of a 600 feeder calf is worth $1.50 per pound
    • If a calf weighs 80 pounds at birth, it needs to gain 2.5 pounds per day to reach 600 pounds at weaning (205 days of age)
      • Remember that most operations wean all calves in one day
    • If a calf is born just one cycle (21 days) later, a producer is losing 53.3 pounds of weaning weight
      • 21 days × 2.5 pounds per day = 53.3 pounds
    • At $1.50 per pound, that is $79.95 per head you can miss out on or $25.20 MORE than the cost of a “good” mineral program for the entire year!
      • $1.50 per pound × 53.3 pounds = $79.95 lost

The benefits of a good mineral program are research proven.

There are numerous research articles available supporting the value in providing cattle a high quality, highly bioavailable mineral source.

  • Fieser et al., 2006
    • Documented an increase in performance of 0.27 lb day over non-supplemented cattle.
  • Horn et al., 2002
    • Increased ADG of 0.16 (yr 1) and 0.26 (yr 2) lb by steers given free-choice, non-medicated mineral compared to those with no supplement.
  • Stanton et al., 2000
    • Cows with high-level of inorganic trace minerals lost more weight than cows receiving organic trace minerals.
    • Calves from cows on the high organic trace minerals saw higher ADG from birth to September.
    • Pregnancy rate to AI was higher when cows were fed high levels of organic trace minerals.

VitaFerm is dedicated to providing its customers a product that will meet the nutritional needs of animals and improve their overall productivity and efficiency.

What role does Amaferm® play in a good mineral program?

Amaferm®️ is a prebiotic designed to enhance digestibility by amplifying the nutrient supply for maximum performance. It is research-proven to increase intake, digestion and absorption. Through increased feedstuff digestibility and absorption, more energy and microbial cell protein are available to the animal for increased gain/body condition and feed efficiency to be achieved (Beck, 2012; Zerby et al., 2011; Caton et al., 1993). A healthy digestive system allows an animal to better utilize nutrients consumed, which then translates to improved animal performance. 70% of an animal’s immunity lies within its digestive system. Therefore, an animal with a healthy digestive system is more likely to perform to their genetic potential.

All VitaFerm mineral contains not only a high quality, highly bioavailable vitamin and mineral package, but also Amaferm.

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