Minerals are important building blocks of functional life. When the body in question is a 1,200-pound beef cow whose purpose is to produce income, she may need supplemental minerals during several crucial periods throughout the year. Proper mineral and vitamin nutrition contributes to strong immune systems, reproductive performance, and calf weight gain. Diets with mineral imbalances may cause poor animal performance, resulting in reduced profitability.
Here are just some of the reasons we supplement with minerals:
- Calcium and phosphorus are the major mineral components of the skeleton. Long-term deficiencies of either can cause bones to weaken and even break. In addition, a decrease in one or both can reduce the amount of milk produced by a lactating mother. A phosphorus deficiency can delay puberty in heifers and can delay mature beef cows from returning to heat. Cattle also need correct amounts of calcium for the nervous and muscular systems to function properly.
- Sodium and chlorine (salt) provide for the proper function of the nervous and muscular systems. They help regulate body pH and the amount of water retained in the body.
- Magnesium is essential for proper enzyme and nervous system function and for efficient carbohydrate metabolism. A magnesium deficiency is uncommon except for cows grazing lush-growth fescue or small grain pastures during the late winter and early spring, which may cause grass tetany, a serious and sometimes fatal metabolic disorder.
- Beef cattle require 10 microminerals. Seven of the 10 have established requirements, including iron, manganese, copper, zinc, selenium, cobalt and iodine.