Minerals play a vital role in animal health, so maintaining optimum mineral levels in your herd will ensure strong animal performance, growth, health and ultimately, will help the profitability of your farm.
It’s crucial that you understand the specific nutritional needs of your herd before you start supplementing the herd’s diet, and it’s also important to understand the delicate balance between deficiencies and the oversupply of minerals, as oversupply can result in toxicity.
Symptoms of mineral deficiencies in your herd can be varied, nonspecific and typically, will require more thorough investigation.
Terra NutriTECH’s recommended approach is below.
First, the herd health and history should be taken into consideration – including all relevant factors such as calving, fertility, the occurrence of lameness, mastitis, typical cell count etc.
Then it is recommended that you conduct blood and milk mineral profiles, where the micro and micro-nutrient levels are verified by a spectrometer in an independent lab.
Liver biopsies can also be performed by a qualified vet to establish current mineral levels.
It is recommended to evaluate samples for the following minerals:
Vet and nutritionist input can also help to build a true picture of the issues and status of the herd in relation to minerals.
After looking at the animal, the focus now turns to their diet and how their feeding patterns change throughout the year.
Terra NutriTECH recommends that full mineral profiling is conducted on any forage and drinking water on the farm. It is also important to analyse the labels of any existing feed supplements, so it’s clear what minerals the animal is already consuming.
Once you have a clear picture of the herd’s health, and its diet, it is recommended to formulate a mineral blend that will address your herd’s specific nutritional requirements. This will lead to optimal health and production.
Minerals to pay particular attention to in feed are molybdenum, which can cause copper lock up, resulting in poor thrive and poor heats and potassium, which prevents magnesium absorption and can result in increased tetany and milk-fever cases
Once the best blend of minerals has been determined, it is then important to evaluate how you are feeding these minerals to the animals.
- Is the feeding of minerals ad hoc? Are all animals getting what they need?
- Am I using concentrate to feed minerals, if so are animals getting the correct rates?
- If you are using feed to yield, are some animals getting too little or too much?
- Is there enough feed space for all animals once feed has been top dressed with minerals?
- Is bullying occurring in the herd so some animals are not consuming their animals?
- Are the correct rates per animals being fed in a consistent manner to ensure any deficiencies are overcome?
Feeding the right minerals on farm is crucial to reducing issues and getting the best results. However, feeding the right minerals in an uneven or ad-hoc manner can also lead to more issues then necessary.
Terra NutriTECH recommends using an automated mineral dispenser that doses an exact amount each day, as well as feeding a custom mineral to your herd to obtain the best results.