The type of mineral feeder and it’s location may be more important than the kind of mineral that you purchase. With all the options for minerals, sometimes we overlook and overspend & still miss the target.
The location of your mineral feeder is probably the most critical part of your weekly cattle management schedule. You may or may not visit the mineral trough every day but your cows do….if it’s in the right spot.
The ideal location for a mineral feeder is a place I call the “Front Porch”. It’s where you drive by, wave to the cows, & glance in the feeder to see if minerals are there. Minerals are heavy to tote so make it easy for you to drop them off.
The “Front Porch” is also the place where cows like to hang out and loaf around. It’s on their elephant path to the water trough. It can also be a place where they like to hang out and and socialize.
**The key to the Front Porch is that the mineral feeder should be a “stone’s throw from the water trough”. Cattle will eat too much or not enough mineral depending on how close it is to the water trough.
Simplify your routine. Since you have to check the water on a regular basis anyway, add mineral to your checklist by locating the feeder at the right distance to ensure sufficient mineral uptake & that the mineral is in place for the cattle.
Here’s the Critical Points of Mineral Feeding:
- ONE feeder per 40 cows is your target for space requirements. Every cow, every herd, needs adequate space for water intake & mineral intake.
- Keep it DRY. Keep it FRESH. Vitamin A & E expire after 6 months so don’t buy a year’s supply.
- Purchase a Mineral Feeder that is portable BUT will not turn over.
- Find a Mineral Feeder that will hold up to abuse & corrosion.
- Don’t leave the mineral feeder EMPTY.
A good phrase to remember on minerals:
“If you don’t get it in them,
you won’t get it out of them.”
Our soil types and our grasses have a big impact on the mineral needs of our cattle. Other factors are fertilization rates and rainfall. Keep in mind that high phosphorous soils bind Magnesium. Therefore, select a high-magnesium mineral. Simplify your management by feeding a high-Mag mineral year round and reduce your chances of grass tetany in spring.
Mineral needs also depend on the animal’s age and their stage of production. Right before calving, the mineral requirements go up considerably. Retained placentas or a delay in re-breeding is a good indication that minerals were limited.
If you call the vet out for an emergency visit, more than likely, he will look for the mineral feeder before he looks for the patient. The mineral feeder gives him more information than what the cow will whisper in his ear.
Don’t underestimate the power of your mineral bag. Hop on your horse and re-examine your mineral feeding system. When you get your “Front Porch” in place, then you can go shopping. There are many options for minerals.
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