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Mineral supplement can have a big return on investment

Alan Newport Cow with calf
Correcting mineral deficiencies where they exist can make big improvements in animal performance and reproduction, which should translate to higher profits.
Here are some facts to convince your clients about the value of proper mineral supplementation.

If you can help your clients understand mineral problems and correct them, you should unlock significant improvements in performance, reproduction and potential profit, says Dr. Jeffery Hall, head of the toxicology lab for the Utah Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory.

Depending on severity of mineral problems and money spent to correct them, the return on investment can be five to one or slightly higher, Hall says.

Dr. Hall says based on thousands of samples from across the U.S. that come through his lab each year, the most common mineral deficiencies in beef cattle are:

  • Copper -- 60-70%
  • Selenium -- 10-70%
  • Vitamin E -- seasonal or drought-related
  • Vitamin A -- seasonal or drought-related
  • Zinc – 2 – 10% or drought related

Here are three examples of why the return can be significant.

  1. Correcting mild deficiencies can improve reproduction, decreasing open cows by 2-4%. Correcting severe deficiencies can decrease the number of open cows by 5-15%.
  2. Improvements in neonatal calf health from correcting these common mineral deficiencies can include more saleable calves, less sickness, less labor expense and less medicinal expense. Improvements in the health of young calves can include less summer pneumonia, fewer weaning health issues and improved vaccine efficacy.
  3. Weight gain improvements in a cow-calf operation can be 20-35 pounds per calf when correcting minor deficiencies, and 50 pounds or more when correcting major deficiencies.

These are particularly good numbers to remember when newly supplemented cattle, that have been deficient, are eating the producer out of house and home and trying to get caught up from their mineral deficiency. It may seem horribly expensive at the time, but consumption will drop to normal when their bodies are recharged.

Next week: Explaining to clients that timing and correct balance are critical for mineral supplementation.

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