Gearld Fry 193 Fry Rd. - Rose Bud, AR 72137
are Essential for Healthy Livestock
is one of the least understood components of the bovine diet. I
consider mineral supplements to be an indispensable management tool
that the American cattle person must learn how to use in order to
maintain the productivity of his/her herd and avoid unintended,
expensive losses. Next to implementing a well managed breeding
program, compensating for mineral deficiencies created by depleted
soils and other environmental factors is probably the most important
responsibility we have for keeping our livestock healthy and
reproductively sound. If we as cattle producers do not understand
the logistics of mineral nutrition then we are at the mercy of the
trained consultant working for a big mineral company, a feed store
manager who may not even own a cow, the veterinarian who charges by the
hour, or perhaps just as bad the fallacies of our own ignorance.
In any event, more often then not we don’t get the proper mineral
nutrition into our animals that it takes to put and end to the health
and performance problems that take away profits (mastitis, cow pox,
ringworms, foot rot, parasite infestation, ecoli scours, retained
placenta, reproduction, pink-eye and many other).
key to mineral nutrition is bioavailability but also balance in the
ration. Minerals that are fed in the correct proportions for your
particular environment will provide the support your animals need to
stay healthy and reproduce abundantly.
properly balanced mineral supplement can virtually eliminate most
health problems including Ecoli scours in baby calves and diarrhea in
the adult animals. Early shedding of the winter hair coat come
springtime is very important and closely associated with reproduction
ability and good health. Both are affected and can be
greatly improved with proper balanced mineral nutrition.
cows probably suffer more from mineral deficiencies than beef animals
because of the pressure put on them to produce great volumes of
milk. Most dairy cows are in confinement and living in a
monoculture type environment. It has been my experience that, for
the most part, it is a low or slow immune response resulting from
inadequate or imbalanced mineral nutrition that causes low pregnancy
rates, high levels of mastitis, and high bacteria cell counts in the
milk. Taking away a cow’s ability to find and choose her own
food, keeping her confined - unable to move freely or circulate toxins
out of her body and instead bringing her every bite she consumes to
where she stands, requires a very keen artistic knowledge of animal
biology and a very keen artistic eye to watch her for symptoms
associated with mineral deficiencies or other nutritional imbalances
that come with confinement management if one is to keep health problems
during the mid 1970’s that a large majority of my young calves came
down with Ecoli scours and it was darn near devastating. I
had to find out why and how to prevent it in the future. I
learned through the trauma of that sickness the critical importance of
minerals in the bovine diet, the role they play in the health of my
cows and their calves, and whether I could continue to take the losses
or find the solutions and continue to support my family.
the search for answers and through the process of educating myself
about mineral nutrition; I learned what the essential minerals were and
the amount of each that was required to keep my animals healthy.
I studied the list of contents on many different mineral bags and
taught myself how to convert parts per million (ppm) into milligrams
per ounce (mg/oz.) and how to convert percentages (%) to milligrams per
ounce. These are the various units of measure for the minerals
that are listed on the tag or label of the mineral bag.
It is my
intent here to share with you what I’ve discovered regarding minerals
and what amounts of each is necessary to promote and sustain the health
of our cattle. Many of these minerals are actually inorganic
metals and are called micronutrients because they are only needed in
small (minute) amounts. Regardless they are needed in a “big way”
to keep the endocrine, digestive, reproductive, immune and other animal
biological systems functioning properly.
When you look at
the tag on a mineral bag you will notice that the calcium and
phosphorus amounts are given as a ratio. Common ratios are 1.5-1,
2-1, or even 1-1 calcium to phosphorus. There really are many
different mixture amounts used in the mineral formulation and in some
areas where the soil phosphorus is known to be in the high side, there
could be very little or none of this mineral put in the mix.
require salt and it is normal for cows to consume about 2 ounces a
day. Adding salt to the mineral mix is a common way to control or
limit over consumption. Some people will buy mineral and salt
separately and then mix the two together pound for pound. That
concoction will have very little value to the animal. A typical
50# bag of mineral is designed to be fed at the rate of 2 to 4 ounces
per animal/day. Each ounce supplies specific amounts of the many
different minerals and is to be fed at the recommended rate to achieve
the desired response. Adding additional salt will decrease daily
intake and dilute the mixture thus reducing the effectiveness
(benefits) of the minerals for your cows, bulls and calves.
The pH of
the water that your animals consume is important and can have negative
consequences if it is too low or too high. The ideal range for
water pH is between 6.3 and 7.2. An easy way to check your water
pH is with Litmus paper. If your water has a high pH, is high in
iron, sodium or other minerals, your cattle may not drink all that they
require to stay adequately hydrated. The chemical effect of water
that is high in iron is that copper becomes bound and unavailable which
most definitely creates health problems.
ideal world, cattle would get the correct amounts of all the required
minerals from the grass and forages they consume. But for many
reasons, from environment (and uterine environment) to genetics to
management, our cattle do not get the minerals they require to maintain
health and a high reproductive status and therefore must be
supplemented accordingly. Lush green grass and legumes growing
from a living, fertile soil will provide many of the nutrients
(minerals) that cattle need to meet the demands we place on them and as
such should not need the level of supplementation that they would
require at other times of the year or when pasture growing conditions
change from favorable.
has determined the mineral dietary requirements for cattle and the
following information lists these minerals and what amounts the
identified author has determined to be necessary for a cow to consume
each day to remain healthy, reproduce and thrive in her
following values are not intended to be a specific formula that will
accurately match your animals’ needs. Because conditions are
different and unique to each farm/ranch, the following information is
presented as a guide to help you understand and recognize the role
minerals play in the health of your livestock. Notice how some
minerals affect others.
experience mineral deficiencies as well as mineral toxicities and often
times the physical signs are similar. When you learn how to
identify both deficiency and toxicity signs and know their affects, you
then realize how to adjust your mineral program so that it will support
the highest levels of health and production in your cow herd.
following information that is in italics font comes straight from the
book Mineral Levels In Animal Health: Diagnostic Data written by Robert
Puls. The book is a master piece for learning how to manage your
cattle’s health. It was published by Sherpa International, 1062-256th
Street, Aldregrove, BC V4W 2J3. Phone/fax 604-856-7534.
lethargy, trembling of hindquarters and weakness of legs with broken or
weak bones after prolonged deficiency. Subclinical hypocalcaemia
can occur – stillborn calves and retained placentas may result.
fever is one of the major calcium deficiencies that plague the dairy
osteopetrosis, vertebral ankylosis and degenerative
osteoarthritis. May reduce fat digestibility. Metastatic Ca
deposition in skeletal and cardiac muscle.
requirements for calcium range from 7500 to 8500 milligrams per/day.
mineral will be in the 12% range. That 12% percent = 3408 milligrams
calcium per ounce.
feed intake and milk yield, unthriftness, lethargy, reduced growth
rate, impaired reproduction (silent heat, low fertility) and bone
abnormalities. May increase metritis and reduce immune response.
Marginal deficiency signs resemble those of Cobalt deficiency. Sever
deficiency causes pica (chewing on wood or other unnatural
objects). Phosphorus deficiency reduces performance more quickly
dietary phosphorus in relation to calcium results in weak bones, downer
cow syndrome and urinary calculi. Maximum tolerated dietary level
approximately 1.0% regardless of calcium level.
Dietary requirement for phosphorus is approximately 4000 milligrams per
mineral will be in the 6% range. That 6% = 1488 milligrams per ounce.
Signs and Effects:
or faded hair coat, reduced growth rate, or diarrhea if molybdenum
induced. Sudden death with no prior signs if pure copper or Fe
fertility in cows and semen quality in bulls. Retained
placenta. Increased incidence of abomasal ulcers. Inability
to suckle, incoordination, stiff gait, opisthotonus or lateral
recumbancy in new born and young calves. Improper bone development,
heal cracks, sole abscesses, foot rot or impaired keritinization
manifested as coarse hair. Cardiovascular disease and reduced immune
response. Cattle may have extremely high or low copper status
without showing any signs of toxicity or deficiency. Erythrocyte
superoxide dismutase activity declines with deficiency but less rapidly
than serum copper.
signs and Effects:
anorexia, frequent recumbancy, abdominal discomfort, jaundice and
decreased milk production. Hemolytic crises, hemoglobinuria and
hemoglobinaemia. Tolerable copper excess may impart oxidized
flavor to milk and reduce sulphur available to rumen flora with
consequent reduced productivity.
absorption from diet decreases as animal matures – 90% at birth to
<10% at 50 days.
requirements for copper range from 150 to 250 milligrams per day.
minerals may be 2500 PPM. That 2500 PPM is 71 milligrams per ounce.
Signs – Severe:
muscle disease, diarrhea, muscle stiffness, sudden death due to cardiac
failure with no prior signs of sickness. Occasionally recumbancy
particularly in parturient cows - similar to milk fever syndrome.
Signs – Marginal:
placentas, abortions, weak, stillborn or lethargic calves often unable
to stand or suckle reduced fertility, cystic ovaries, metritis, delayed
conception, erratic, weak or silent heat periods and poor
fertilization. Reduced growth rate, reduced immune response
apparent as pneumonia, scouring, foot rot and mastitis etc.
signs - lassitude, inappetance, dyspnea and death. Blind staggers
or Alkali Disease, loss of hair, cracked or deformed hooves and
lameness. Current research indicates blind staggers may not be caused
by selenium. Toxicity of the selenium accumulating plants (Astragalus
Sp.), may not be due to Selenium but other organic toxins in the same
dietary requirement for selenium for the cow range from 4 to 6
milligrams a day.
3 milligrams per helping/day of selenium is allowed by law.
Purchased mineral is commonly close to 26 PPM. That 26 PPM is 0.73
milligrams per ounce.
failure; suppressed estrus, stillbirths, abortions, gestation period
extended by up to 9 days, hairless or weak calves, retained
placenta. Goiter, reduced milk yield, foot rot, respiratory
diseases, mastitis and actinomycosis are prevented or respond to EDDI
excessive salivation, hyperthermia, coughing, nasal and ocular
discharge, bronchopneumonia and abortions. Individual animals
show apparent inability to metabolise and excrete EDDI.
Iodine requirements range from 25 to 28 milligrams per cow/day.
minerals that contain iodine commonly have 3 to 5 milligrams per ounce.
Some manufactures have higher amounts and it will be labeled in PPM.
signs occur in calves, whereas subclinical deficiency is more likely in
adults. Weak hoof horn with increased susceptibility to
interdigital dermatitis or foot rot. Reduced conception rate,
severely impaired spermatozoan maturation. Reduced feed intake
and growth rate. Lethargy. Reduced immune response.
Parakeratosis. Zinc is essential for normal wound healing and
synthesis of collagen in bone.
in adult cattle is uncommon. 2.0% zinc in dairy feed has killed
mature cows. Zinc at 6-8 PPM in drinking water may adversely
affect cattle. Pancreatitis occurs with > 1600 PPM dietary
zinc. 500 PPM zinc in milk replacer or 1.5-2.0 grams of zinc
per/head/day for 30 days is toxic to preruminant calves. High
zinc intake interferes with calcium metabolism. 120 milligrams of zinc
(as oxide) per kg of body weight for 3 days can cause hypocalcaemia.
calves are more susceptible than adults. Excessive bawling,
increased milk replacer consumption, diarrhea and polyuria followed by
pica, then reduced appetite, submandibular edema and emaciation.
Pneumonia, ocular signs, bloat and cardiac errhythmias may occur,
terminating in tonic-clonic convulsions, nystagmus and lack of
sensorium. Increased incidence of arthritis and milk fever may
occur in adults.
requirements for cows range from 1200 to 1600 milligrams per day.
minerals that contain 3000 PPM will have 85.22 milligrams per ounce.
minerals with 1.9% zinc will contain 539.6 milligrams per ounce.
linked to silent heat, reduced conception, abortions, reduced birth
weight, increased percentage of male calves, paralysis and skeletal
by reduced appetite and growth rate, anemia and abdominal
discomfort. Abortion and cystic ovaries may be associated with
excess manganese. Manganese is excreted in bile at rate of 12.7 umol/kg
requirements for Manganese range around 1200 milligrams per/cow/day.
minerals that contain 2500 PPM will have 71.02 milligrams manganese per
Signs and Effects:
trembling, frothing at mouth, hyperaesthesia, tetany, incoordination,
convulsions and death. Death is often sudden with no prior
signs. Sub-clinical hypomagnesemia may reduce food intake and
adversely affect milk yield and heart function. Magnesium appears
to play a role in activation of vitamin D. Hypomagnesemia reduces
calcium mobilization in steers, non-pregnant lactating cows and cows at
dietary magnesium reduces feed intake, retards growth rate and produces
diarrhea and emaciation. BUN and serum creatinine levels become
greatly elevated, and serum calcium is reduced.
dietary requirements for cows range from 5,000 to 10,000 milligrams per
minerals that contain 5% magnesium contain 1420 milligrams per/ounce.
Formula for Converting % to Milligrams per Ounce (mg/oz.)
The mineral bag label list the Phosphorus to be 12%.
1. 12% X 284 (conversion factor) = 3408 mg/ounce
The percent X 284 (conversion factor) = mg/ounce
. If the feeding instructions call for 4 ounces./head/day than
3408 milligrams/ounce X 4 ounces would equal 13632 milligrams of
phosphorus - the amount your cows would consume a day with that
for Converting PPM to Milligrams per Ounce (mg/oz.)
Tag on mineral bag indicates the selenium content to be at 26 PPM per
26 PPM X .0284 (conversion factor) = 0.7384 mg/ounce.
the feeding instructions call for 4 ounces/head/day than 0.7384
milligrams/ounce X 4 ounces would equal 2.95 milligrams - the amount of
selenium your cows would consume a day with that mineral. Do you
think their systems would be deficient, adequate or toxic with this
amount of selenium?
you starting to get the idea why it is so important to read and
is a summary table for the mineral requirements discussed above.
Mineral Requirements for a Cow
7500 to 8500 mg/per/day
1200 to 1600 mg/per/day
5000 to 10,000 mg/per/day
times it is necessary to buy individual minerals and add additional
amounts of them to a mix already put together in order to get the
required amounts up to where they need to be. The content
of the mineral in that “individual” mineral bag is typically given as a
needing to add extra: Calcium - look for Calcium Carbonate with a
content of 38%.
and Phosphorus – look for Dicalcium Phosphate with the content of 21%
calcium & 18% Phosphorus or Mono Calcium Phosphate with the content
of 18% calcium & 21% phosphorus.
– look for Copper Sulfate with a content of 25.2%.
– look for Magnesium Oxide with a content of 54%.
– look for Zinc Oxide with a content of 72%.
should now be able to read most any mineral bag label or batch mix tag
that a mill prepares and determine, using the formulas above, what
amounts of each mineral your cattle are taking in assuming they
ingest the recommended daily amount. The last point I wish to
make is that some sources of minerals are more biologically available
then others and certain minerals are antagonistic to others which means
one may counteract the effect of another. Start with the
information presented here and I am confident you will see favorable
now you have the basic information that helped me go from overwhelming
sickness in my herds to the virtual elimination of several diseases, to
the return of sustainable profits. It was a challenge for me then
and I challenge each you now to educate yourself, to learn about
mineral nutrition and animal health and reproduction. If you
train yourself to recognize the signs caused by mineral imbalances
(especially mineral deficiencies) that your livestock exhibit then you
too can take action and significantly minimize the occurrence of those
illnesses that rob us on a daily basis.
2006 Gearld Fry
be strong and very courageous, that you may observe to do according to
all the law which Moses My Servant commanded you; do not turn to the
right hand or to the left that you may prosper where ever you
193 Fry Rd.
Rose Bud, AR 72137
Telephone - 501-454-3252
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