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Navigating Mineral Supplementation for Healthy Beef Cattle
Ohio Ag Connection - 02/23/2024

Providing essential minerals is vital for beef cattle, just like protein and energy. While minerals constitute a small portion of the diet, their deficiency in many feedstuffs necessitates careful supplementation. The adage "if a little is good, isn't more better?" doesn't apply when it comes to minerals, as overfeeding can lead to severe consequences.

Sulfur: Maintaining a balance is critical, especially with sulfur. Exceeding tolerable concentrations can result in sulfur toxicity, causing neurological disorders and even death. By-product feeds, though beneficial, may contribute to overfeeding sulfur, emphasizing the importance of cautious formulation.

Calcium and Phosphorus: Balancing the calcium-to-phosphorus ratio is crucial, as certain concentrates may inversely affect it. A skewed ratio can lead to urinary calculi or stones. Opting for co-product balancing mineral products can rectify these imbalances.

Selenium: Once known for toxicity, selenium is now recognized as essential. Regulations prevent toxicity by capping selenium content in mineral supplements. Deficiency is common in some regions, making selenium inclusion crucial, but excess selenium can lead to toxicity.

Understanding mineral interactions is complex, but overfeeding can result in complications. Collaborating with a nutritionist is recommended to develop a feeding program tailored to herd needs. A good-quality, complete free-choice mineral is often a starting point, while co-product balancing minerals may be advisable for certain diets.

For queries on mineral supplementation, contact your local county extension office.

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