Everyone wants to make the most of summer. In the upper Midwest, we waste no time getting outside to soak up as much sun as possible to get us through the other 7-8 months. It’s no different for the cow-calf operators; the pastures are green, calves are growing like weeds and the next generation is just taking hold. It’s a picture Norman Rockwell would be proud of; however it’s what you don’t see that disturbs the beauty of this scene…mineral deficiencies.
Mineral deficiencies, macro and trace, are common among grazing animals. More often than not, the deficiencies are mild and cattle don’t show any outward signs. Rather you’ll notice animals that are not as thrifty as others and they don’t perform at the same level. Some producers would just shrug this off, saying that cow always looks like that; the others are just fine. However; not addressing the mineral deficiencies can be costly.
The most common mineral deficiencies in grazing cattle are phosphorus, copper, zinc and selenium. These deficiencies can be the result of a number of factors: nutrients lacking in the soil, antagonists, growth rate of the forages, endophyte infected fescue and plant maturity. Mineral deficiencies don’t just happen; it’s a slow decrease over time. The graph below illustrates how mineral deficiencies affect the animal as the severity of the deficiency increases. By the time your cows are showing obvious signs of a mineral deficiency, see the picture below, they’ve already sacrificed immune function and reproductive and growth performance in the interest of self-preservation.
Discolored hair coats are a visual indication of copper deficiency.
Fortunately, these deficiencies can be prevented and even resolved (with time).
1) Properly fertilizing pastures can help improve phosphorus levels in the plants. Soil testing can be advantageous and ensure that you are putting the right mix on your pastures. Check with your local extension service or NRCS office for tips on soil testing as well as where to send samples.
2) Keeping the pasture in the growth stage of maturity gives your cows an advantage as well. As the pastures mature and go to seed, more of the plant structure is changed to lignin. As this happens, there is less ‘room’ for nutrients in the plant cells and what is there is less available in the rumen.
3) The obvious prevention measure is to provide a highly palatable, self-fed mineral supplement year round. The mineral supplement should contain 4-8% phosphorus in a year-round program when cattle on are low phosphorus pastures or being fed stored forages. Zinc and copper should be in at least a 3:1 ratio, as balance is important for proper absorption for both trace minerals.
CRYSTALYX® brand supplements offer a number of properly balanced, highly palatable, self-fed supplements to fit nearly every summer grazing situation. CRYSTALYX® CRYSTAL-PHOS®, Phos-Lyx®, Fescue-Phos®, Mineral-lyx®, and Breed-Up® MAX deliver phosphorus, copper, zinc and selenium to keep your cows (calves and bulls) performing at their best while on summer pasture. CRYSTAL-PHOS®, Phos-Lyx®, Fescue-Phos® and Breed-Up® MAX have the added benefits of organic trace minerals from Zinpro®. These are formulated to help ensure high reproductive rates within your herd and are especially applicable around the breeding season and with herds with high reproductive demands. To learn more about using CRYSTALYX® brand supplements for your summer grazing, visit our website, crystalyx.com, or contact your local CRYSTALYX® dealer.
Zinpro® is a registered trademark of the Zinpro Corporation