Date of this Version
Mineral supplementation programs range from elaborate, cafeteria-style delivery systems to simple white salt blocks put out periodically by producers. The reason for this diversity: little applicable research available for producers to evaluate mineral supplement programs. There is a need of information regarding mineral composition and availability from various feedstuffs (i.e. pasture grasses, hays, by-products, etc.) and the possible interactions between minerals in the digestive system. Also lacking is a data base to establish accurate estimates of mineral requirements for beef cattle.
Assessing the consequence of mineral deficiencies in the cow, calf or stocker animal is difficult because slightly lowered weight gains in calves, reduced milk production and/or decreased reproduction rates may occur without visible signs of deficiency. At the same time, excess mineral consumption may cause reduced cow and/or calf performance without obvious signs of toxicity. Potential problems can occur due to mineral undernutrition in the cow herd; however, producers need sufficient information to establish a "least cost" method of correcting mineral undernutrition.