Parker Henley, Oklahoma State University Extension Specialist and Mark Z. Johnson, Oklahoma State University Extension Beef Cattle Breeding Specialist
There are several reasons, in a non-drought year, that most people consider Oklahoma the greatest state for raising beef cattle. One of those reasons is that as a rule of thumb, Oklahoma forages do not have severe mineral deficiencies or high levels of mineral antagonists compared to forages in many other states. In 2022, the drought has led many of us to neighboring states for harvested forage, some of which are unconventional forage types. If you are in this situation, you may need to pay extra attention for your mineral program. We would suggest you get a feed analysis of your winter hay supply that includes mineral concentration. But, even with a test there are several mineral antagonists and unknown interactions that may occur. Mineral supplementation to the cow herd is always a good idea, this year, it is of even greater potential benefit.
Proper mineral and vitamin nutrition contributes to strong immune systems, reproductive performance and calf weight gain. Diets with mineral imbalances may cause poor animal performance, resulting in reduced profitability. Mineral requirements are dependent on forage mineral content, animal age and stage of production. However, simply knowing the animal’s requirement is only one component in evaluating an animal’s mineral status. Mineral needs also tend to be area specific and change with soil type, fertilization rates, rainfall and other factors.
A mineral supplement that meets the cow’s macro mineral needs for things like calcium, phosphorus, and magnesium, can be fairly straight forward with a basic mineral program, but to get them bred back in a timely manner and to retain that pregnancy, delivering a highly available trace mineral supplement to the cow on a consistent basis is critical. Therefore, it is recommended producers ensure beef cows receive supplemental sources of these elements at least 60 days prior to calving through breeding and 30 days to 60 days prior to weaning.