Why Do Cows Need Mineral?

Jan 18, 2021

Tara Ellerman
Livestock Nutrition Specialist
Why do nutritionists talk about the importance of feeding minerals? Why are they so important? What do they actually do?
The University of Nebraska1 divides the role of minerals into four major categories:
  1. Skeletal development & maintenance
Calcium and phosphorus are major minerals needed in the process of building bones in growing cattle and maintaining strong bones in mature cattle. Bones are a major storage site for both calcium and phosphorus and can provide these minerals to the animal in short-term deficiencies. If an animal is deficient for long periods of time, weak and brittle bones, as well as decreases in feed efficiency and body condition score are observed.
  1. Milk Production
Milk is a major source of calcium, so it’s no wonder calcium is required for milk production! Deficiencies in calcium during lactation lead to in poor milk quality, production, and ultimately poor calf performance!
  1. Energy
Many minerals are essential parts of enzymes, cofactors, or other compounds in the body that are required for energy! Minerals involved in metabolism, energy production and utilization include phosphorus, copper, zinc, manganese, and selenium. Deficiencies in these minerals result in reduced growth, efficiency, and reproductive performance.
  1. Basic Body Function
Other minerals are used for basic bodily functions. Fertility, immunity, maintaining osmotic pressure, nervous system function are just a few important functions that minerals play a big role in. Calcium, potassium, sodium, chloride, sulfur, cobalt, chromium, iodine, and iron among other minerals are important to supply to cattle to ensure their body can function.
Skeletal development and maintenance, milk production, energy, and basic bodily functions are all very important in beef production cycle! Providing adequate mineral for your cattle is a great starting point for a sound nutrition program, no matter what sector your cattle belong to. Combined with balancing adequate protein and energy, a program can be developed to ensure your cattle have the nutritional tools to meet your production goals as efficiently as possible!
That being said mismanaged minerals can be costly. Understanding how to properly manage free choice mineral is important, read 5 Tips for Managing Free Choice Mineral Intake to ensure your herd and pocketbook are getting the most out of your mineral!
Contact your Countryside Feed representative to develop a year-round mineral program!

1Rasby, R. et al. (1988) Minerals and Vitamins for Beef Cows. EC97-277. University of Nebraska, Retrieved January 8, 2004 from http://www.ianr.unl.edu/pubs/beef/ec277.htm.

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