By Sara Thissen
According to several polls referenced during a recent Agri-Best webinar, many cattle producers utilize commercial mineral products and rely on assistance from their local feed dealer to develop a mineral-feeding program. Dr. Cody Wright of South Dakota State University says that it’s common for cattle producers to take that avenue. 
Proper mineral nutrition is key for livestock production. “If the animal is not receiving its adequate amount of mineral nutrition, they may not respond to vaccines or antibiotics,” says Wright. “As a cattle producer, you do want to lose out on productivity.”
Wright explains there are common challenges to feeding minerals into a cow/calf operation.
Determining mineral supply is an essential component. For a producer, it’s hard to determine what minerals are available for livestock. Also, what an animal consumes has created a problem leading to where deficiencies have occurred. 
Accurate estimate of requirement minerals. In some cases, the requirement varies depending on production, size, occurrence of interactions, age and breed. “For an example, Simmental cattle may have a different mineral requirement than Angus cattle,” says Wright.
Supplementation in excess of requirements. Unless combating an antagonism, this practice is likely economically unsound, environmentally detrimental and potentially toxic, according to Wright.
There are many minerals an animal needs to maintain its productivity. However, producers need to be aware of what amount to feed their livestock. Macro minerals are large minerals fed a by percent amount. Calcium, Phosphorus, Potassium, and Sulfur would be classified as macro minerals.
Calcium is the most abundant mineral in the body. It’s used for structure and muscle contractions. Wright also notes calcium affects meat tenderness as part of the Calpain enzyme system to have an influence on tenderness. 
“Calcium requirements change with size and productivity,” says Wright. “Deficiencies are unlikely in a forage-fed animal except those grazing in lush, cool season grasses or weathered forages. However, those animals who are on a grain-fed diet are more likely to develop a calcium deficiency, potentially causing them to have water belly.”
The one mineral that causes more problems for cattle producers is sulfur, according to Wright. Sulfur is used as a sulfur-containing amino acid to interact with Vitamin B, thiamin, and biotin. Deficiencies are unlikely unless if producers use urea or are feeding a high rumen undegradeable protein. 
There are two conditions induced by sulfur. First, Polioencephalomalacia (PEM) is usually caused by a thiamin deficiency and can be cured through supplementing thiamin into the animal’s diet or through injections. The other condition, Sulfur-induced PEM is not alleviated by thiamin therapy. “It’s practically a death sentence for the animal,” says Wright.
Animals who consume high sulfur water, found mostly in the Western states notes Wright, may develop sulfur-induced PEM. The animal will show signs of stargazing or head pressing to relieve the pressure. “I encourage producers to develop a treatment plan with their veterinarian to treat animals affected by this condition,” says Wright.
The other type of minerals are classified as micro minerals, commonly known as trace minerals, are fed by parts per million. Cobalt, Copper, Iodine, and Selenium are examples of micro minerals. 
The most common and difficult trace mineral for an animal to get its required amount is copper, says Wright. This mineral provides hemoglobin formation, connective tissue formation, and immune function by being a major player to support vaccinations. However, cooper depends heavily on antagonist.
“The animal can develop anemia, delayed or depressed estrus, or depigmentation which causes black hided cattle to have a red tint localized around their muzzle or eyes if there is not enough copper in their diets,” says Wright. 
When producers are ready to formulate mineral supplementations, Wright lays out three basic formulation requirements.
1. Determine the animal’s requirements. Generally, this is done best by consulting with an Extension staff or a nutritionist.
2. Determine the mineral concentration of the animal’s primary sources of minerals by testing forages, supplements, feed ingredients, and water.
3. Refrain from using book values. Wright discourages producers from using book values to formulate a mineral supplementation because they consist of averages from around the nation and may not reflect the variability found locally.
When it comes down to figuring out what route to take. Take a look at the whole pictures if it’s not a mineral issue, says Wright. Ask yourself, what else changed? Go about analyzing feed and water, or taking blood or tissue samples.
Wright states there are many other valuable macro and micro minerals to take into consideration when formulating a supplement to meet mineral deficiencies in livestock.
“A mineral supplement is essential to productivity when deficiencies exist, but make sure to not over supplement,” says Wright. “Finding the right balance varies by operation and testing can be prudent investment for the livestock producer.”
According to several polls referenced during a recent Agri-Best webinar, many cattle producers utilize commercial mineral products and rely on assistance from their local feed dealer to develop a mineral-feeding program. Dr. Cody Wright of South Dakota State University says that it’s common for cattle producers to take that avenue. 
Proper mineral nutrition is key for livestock production. “If the animal is not receiving its adequate amount of mineral nutrition, they may not respond to vaccines or antibiotics,” says Wright. “As a cattle producer, you do want to lose out on productivity.”
Wright explains there are common challenges to feeding minerals into a cow/calf operation.
Determining mineral supply is an essential component. For a producer, it’s hard to determine what minerals are available for livestock. Also, what an animal consumes has created a problem leading to where deficiencies have occurred. 
Accurate estimate of requirement minerals. In some cases, the requirement varies depending on production, size, occurrence of interactions, age and breed. “For an example, Simmental cattle may have a different mineral requirement than Angus cattle,” says Wright.
Supplementation in excess of requirements. Unless combating an antagonism, this practice is likely economically unsound, environmentally detrimental and potentially toxic, according to Wright.
There are many minerals an animal needs to maintain its productivity. However, producers need to be aware of what amount to feed their livestock. Macro minerals are large minerals fed a by percent amount. Calcium, Phosphorus, Potassium, and Sulfur would be classified as macro minerals.
Calcium is the most abundant mineral in the body. It’s used for structure and muscle contractions. Wright also notes calcium affects meat tenderness as part of the Calpain enzyme system to have an influence on tenderness. 
“Calcium requirements change with size and productivity,” says Wright. “Deficiencies are unlikely in a forage-fed animal except those grazing in lush, cool season grasses or weathered forages. However, those animals who are on a grain-fed diet are more likely to develop a calcium deficiency, potentially causing them to have water belly.”
The one mineral that causes more problems for cattle producers is sulfur, according to Wright. Sulfur is used as a sulfur-containing amino acid to interact with Vitamin B, thiamin, and biotin. Deficiencies are unlikely unless if producers use urea or are feeding a high rumen undegradeable protein. 
There are two conditions induced by sulfur. First, Polioencephalomalacia (PEM) is usually caused by a thiamin deficiency and can be cured through supplementing thiamin into the animal’s diet or through injections. The other condition, Sulfur-induced PEM is not alleviated by thiamin therapy. “It’s practically a death sentence for the animal,” says Wright.
Animals who consume high sulfur water, found mostly in the Western states notes Wright, may develop sulfur-induced PEM. The animal will show signs of stargazing or head pressing to relieve the pressure. “I encourage producers to develop a treatment plan with their veterinarian to treat animals affected by this condition,” says Wright.
The other type of minerals are classified as micro minerals, commonly known as trace minerals, are fed by parts per million. Cobalt, Copper, Iodine, and Selenium are examples of micro minerals. 
The most common and difficult trace mineral for an animal to get its required amount is copper, says Wright. This mineral provides hemoglobin formation, connective tissue formation, and immune function by being a major player to support vaccinations. However, cooper depends heavily on antagonist.
“The animal can develop anemia, delayed or depressed estrus, or depigmentation which causes black hided cattle to have a red tint localized around their muzzle or eyes if there is not enough copper in their diets,” says Wright. 
When producers are ready to formulate mineral supplementations, Wright lays out three basic formulation requirements.
1. Determine the animal’s requirements. Generally, this is done best by consulting with an Extension staff or a nutritionist.
2. Determine the mineral concentration of the animal’s primary sources of minerals by testing forages, supplements, feed ingredients, and water.
3. Refrain from using book values. Wright discourages producers from using book values to formulate a mineral supplementation because they consist of averages from around the nation and may not reflect the variability found locally.
When it comes down to figuring out what route to take. Take a look at the whole pictures if it’s not a mineral issue, says Wright. Ask yourself, what else changed? Go about analyzing feed and water, or taking blood or tissue samples.
Wright states there are many other valuable macro and micro minerals to take into consideration when formulating a supplement to meet mineral deficiencies in livestock.
“A mineral supplement is essential to productivity when deficiencies exist, but make sure to not over supplement,” says Wright. “Finding the right balance varies by operation and testing can be prudent investment for the livestock producer.”