Trace mineral source matters to cow herd health

The type of trace mineral you feed your cattle matters, and, at least one research study suggests that paying a little more can result in a net return on investment when it comes to choosing the type of zinc, copper, cobalt, or selenium product you choose to feed.

Dr. Matt Hersom, from the University of Florida, presented at the recent Canadian Beef Industry Conference held at Calgary, Alta., and shared findings from on-ranch research in Florida that showed a 3:1 cost benefit when feeding a specific trace mineral source vs. traditional sources, such as salt mineral licks.

Trace minerals, including copper and cobalt, are important for all facets of a cow’s general health and performance during maintenance and growth and pregnancy. Hersom’s work compared Alltech’s organic product offering vs. inorganic trace mineral sources and found a 2.7 per cent increase in pregnancy rate. When followed through to calf weaning performance, the group fed the organic-based mineral source turned out a 4:1 return on money spent on trace mineral.

(Organic, in this case, refers to mineral composition, which impacts nutritional availability and use, not a production system, to be clear).

Hersom says that while there are many who believe a cow will intuitively know how much of what to eat to meet her total nutritional needs, including mineral supplements, Hersom says, “Cows can’t read,” and instead, says there is value in appropriately formulated rations fed at the right amount.

Watch the full interview below between RealAgriculture’s Jessika Guse and Dr. Matt Hersom in the video below:

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