August 2015
Feeding Facts

General Thoughts on Mineral Supplementation

As we get into the dog days of summer and forage quality continues to decline, we begin to look for every advantage to make sure cattle perform at acceptable levels. Cattle from spring calving herds are at the end of their breeding season and fall calving cows are in their last trimester and headed toward calving season. One of the most important areas of nutrition for these cattle and one of the most overlooked is a good mineral program.

Recently, the minerals offered by your local Quality Co-op were reevaluated to assure the correct mineral concentrations are present in our products. As always, the products offer chelated minerals supplied by Novus’ Mintrex line.

For a brief review of mineral nutrition, let’s consider mineral availability. Generally speaking, chelated minerals have the best bioavailability followed by sulfate minerals and the least bioavailable are the oxide forms of minerals. However, we must also realize that with increased bioavailability price also increases. So, as we formulate minerals, a combination of the different forms of minerals gives us the most bang for our buck. We must also remember that it is impractical to provide some minerals in chelated form simply due to cost.

Formax Minerals provide proper mineral nutrition to all classes of cattle, and formulations provide the proper minerals for every production demand. In the early spring, when there is potential for grass tetany, there are high-magnesium formulations; when it’s breeding season, there’s Breeder Gold. There is a formulation to fit every production scenario in every season.

All formulations contain calcium, phosphorous, magnesium and potassium as macro minerals. These are adjusted to provide the correct ratios when fed to cattle grazing Southern forages. These minerals are required for proper body development and all metabolic functions. They are needed in the greatest quantity as they are in the highest concentrations in biological systems. Micro minerals supplied include manganese, zinc, iron, copper, cobalt, iodine and selenium. These minerals provide nutrition for more specific bodily functions such as reproduction and muscle development.

In addition to providing proper mineral nutrition, Formax Minerals are also fortified with vitamins to supply the proper levels of vitamins A, D and E. The ruminal microbes produce adequate supplies of B vitamins for cattle. Vitamin E is the most expensive of these vitamins and is left out of or not included in many commercial minerals because of cost. Vitamin E is essential for proper muscle development and reproductive performance.

However, producers need to remember that the greatest mineral in the world is no good if it isn’t fed properly. If cattle don’t consume minerals at their proper level, then no advantage is gained. Producers should always monitor intake to be certain that cattle are consuming the desired amount of mineral. Salt is used both to supplement sodium and chloride in the diet as well as to limit intake. Many times cattlemen feel that too much mineral is being consumed. If mineral is supplied to cows nursing calves, those calves should also be consuming mineral. This could make cattlemen feel that their cows are overconsuming mineral when in fact this can be explained by the fact that calves are also eating the mineral.

Mineral should also be fed in the proper type of feeder and kept available to the cattle at all times. Mineral feeders should be covered to prevent exposure to wind and rain. Hard or crusty product should be cleaned from the feeder from time to time and fresh mineral added. To keep cattle consuming the proper amount, mineral should be fresh and available at all times.

Mineral feeders shouldn’t be in close proximity to water. This can cause overconsumption. It is very important to supply clean, fresh water so proper cattle health and appetite are maintained. An ideal location for mineral feeder would be close to loafing areas or near feed sources. Since mineral is one of the more expensive necessary supplements, proper care and feeding of mineral can prevent excess waste of a valuable resource.

As we have discussed in previous articles, it is extremely important to have a plan and follow it. This includes your mineral program. Strategically plan your program based on the production phase of your cow herd. By doing this, you can increase performance and save money.

All mineral-related products can be found at your local Co-op store. There are several different types of feeders; you can choose the one that best fits your production situation and budget. All Formax Minerals are available to help meet your production goals. Check out our minerals and equipment to get cattle performing optimally.

Stephen Donaldson is AFC’s animal nutritionist. If I can help any of you, please get in touch with me and let’s succeed together. You can reach me at 256-476-5272 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..