May 2014
Farm & Field

Don’t Be Penny Wise, But Pound Foolish

This winter, I spoke with a cattle producer who, due to economic circumstances, had decided to save money by going from a balanced mineral and vitamin supplement to offering plain white salt. After a few years of this, the cattle had developed abscesses requiring veterinary treatment and were extremely lame. This one decision had far-reaching consequences. Besides vet bills, this producer lost money because his cattle were too lame to properly graze or even breed. Calf production suffered. To add insult to injury, it will take at least a year for the hooves to grow out, so problems are likely to continue for months even with treatment and proper nutrition. While this is an extreme case, it points out the investment value of a solid mineral/vitamin supplement program and the train wreck that results when animals don’t get what they need. Don’t think this can’t happen to you!

Let’s do a little math exercise to illustrate potential savings and costs. As an example, take 100 head of cattle supplemented for a year on salt. The supplement cost per head per day will be roughly 1 cent; therefore, the cost to supplement 100 head for a year will be $365. Compare that with supplementing 100 head on SWEETLIX 6% CopperHead Mineral for a year. The cost per head per day of SWEETLIX 6% CopperHead is roughly 11 cents. Your annual cost for feeding 100 head will be $4,015. At first glance, that looks like a lot of money, and it is. But let’s talk about what you get for your money.

First off, research shows we can expect an extra 0.25 lb. in ADG when basic mineral needs are met. In this example, let’s assume 100 cows give birth to 100 calves. An extra 0.25 lb. ADG on 100 calves in a six-month period comes to an extra 45 lbs. per calf or 4,500 lbs. for the herd. With recent prices hovering around $1.60/lb. you can see the return of $7,200 more than pays for the cost of supplementation on its own!

But let’s not forget about the other benefits of proper mineral supplementation that are harder to quantify in dollar amounts such as improved reproductive performance, improved hoof health and improved immune response. Cows in good body condition receiving proper mineral supplementation are going to come in heat earlier, get pregnant earlier and result in a tighter calving period. Bulls in good body condition with proper mineral supplementation are not only more fertile but also are able to cover more cows because they are more structurally sound and can move more freely to get to the cows. When reproductive problems surface due to mineral deficiencies, it typically takes a full year of supplementation for full recovery.

We’ve talked about hoof health. Copper and zinc are critical for healthy, hard hooves that will be less likely to incur injury that will allow the foot rot bacterium to gain entrance in the wound. Research has also shown cattle with proper mineral supplementation respond better to vaccinations since minerals are key building blocks for immune systems in the body.

In summary, the old adage of "you can pay me now, or pay me later" is truer now than ever. Think very carefully about long-term effects before cutting out a vital component of your nutritional program. Better yet, think of mineral and vitamin supplementation as an investment rather than a cost. Cattle producers should consider one of the SWEETLIX CopperHead line of mineral supplements if cattle show symptoms of copper deficiency - red-tinged black coats, loss of pigment around the eyes, slow to shed out winter coats, increased hoof problems or reduced reproductive performance. All CopperHead supplement products deliver enhanced levels of copper and zinc, as well as other essential minerals and vitamins. All minerals in the CopperHead line of mineral supplements contain organic forms of zinc, copper, manganese and cobalt for optimum bioavailability. SWEETLIX CopperHead minerals are highly palatable with consistent intake. SWEETLIX CopperHead supplements also have the added advantage of RainBloc for improved resistance to moisture resulting in less waste associated with "caking."

Call 1-87SWEETLIX, visit or like us on Facebook to learn more about how SWEETLIX CopperHeadMinerals can work for you.Ask for SWEETLIX CopperHeadMinerals by name at your local Quality Co-op location!

Jackie Nix is an animal nutritionist with Ridley Block Operations ( You can contact her at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 1-800-325-1486 for questions or to learn more about SWEETLIX mineral and protein supplements for cattle, goats, horses, sheep and wildlife. References available upon request.