We have to protect animals that provide us with a living and provide the world with a safe, high quality food supply. They require a number of dietary mineral elements for normal bodily maintenance, growth, and reproduction. These requirements are based on the type, weight and age, as well as the rate of performance expected of the animal.
Mineral imbalances and/or deficiencies can result in decreased performance, decreased disease resistance and reproductive failure which results in significant economic losses.
Mineral supplements are not uniformly palatable. Other than dry matter intakes, daily water consumption and satisfying salt intakes, cattle have no known inherent ability to satisfy daily intakes of other nutrients including minerals.
Selecting the correct mineral supplement is important for maintaining healthy animals, and optimal growth and reproduction. Since high-quality forages and/or grains can furnish a large portion of the required minerals, producers should select supplements that will meet animal requirements and avoid excesses that reduce profits and lead to unnecessary mineral excretion.
Minerals essential to cattle nutrition are classified as macrominerals or microminerals, depending on whether they are found at levels greater than or less than 100 parts per million (ppm) in the animal’s body.
The macrominerals required by beef cattle include calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, sodium, chlorine and sulfur. There are 10 microminerals required by beef cattle. Seven of the 10 microminerals have established requirements and include iron, manganese, copper, zinc, selenium, cobalt and iodine. The microminerals chromium, molybdenum and nickel do not have an established requirement and are not normally added to mineral mixes fed to beef cattle.