36 CALF News • August | September 2020 • M ost mineral supplementation is done as a matter of habit. It’s a routine that is, perhaps, followed in the same manner for a long period of time. It is impor- tant to know that research continues constantly, finding new and better reasons to supply the correct minerals, balanced for specific groups of cattle. A big thank you goes to Jason Edmondson, beef technical specialist, ADMAnimal Nutrition. His thoughtful contribu- tions to this article are appreciated. ADMAnimal Nutrition offers feed products, supplements, premixes, custom blends and specialty feed ingredients for optimizing animal health and nutrition across multiple species. Start at the beginning Edmondson says that it is important to “periodically reevalu- ate the nutritional program for your cattle.” There are many factors involving cost and nutritional effectiveness that can change over time. Access to feed ingredients, changes in processing, demand, logistics and availability of product are ever-moving targets that must be constantly monitored. Edmondson warns against making a “knee-jerk reaction” that could affect a cattle opera- tion’s long-term profitability. He explains that mineral supple- mentation is viewed as a low-hanging fruit to cut costs. In the short-term, minerals are rarely missed. Long-term effects, how- ever, can be severe and often take a long time to rectify. The lack of comfort some producers have understanding mineral formulations, bioavailability and animal requirements may lead to uninformed decisions. Proper evaluation of supplementation takes a “big picture” mindset. Metrics used to measure nutritional success come only a few times a year. Pregnancy and calving rates, weaning weights and closeout sheets are examples. Best management practices Mineral supplementation is a basic practice when made a regular part of a management program. Under the best circumstances, most cattle will grow, become pregnant, calve and breed back. Providing adequate minerals is a strategy that increases the odds that cattle will perform to their full poten- tial, even when circumstances are imperfect. If cattle are borderline deficient in minerals when a stress- ful event like transporting, health challenges or weather events occur, their performance can be greatly affected. It is impos- sible to predict the effects of every stress event and they can impact each animal to varying degrees. That’s why feeding mineral is like insurance; you hope you don’t have to rely on it, but you want it when a problem arises. Edmondson makes the following recommendations:  Maintain a constant supply of minerals for your cattle. Inconsistent mineral availability can cause erratic consump- tion, resulting in variations in your return on investment.  Move your mineral feeders around to dial in the proper mineral intake. Proximity of the feeder to other well-used areas can help. Waterers, back rubbers, mineral feeders and other cattle comforts placed together will encourage product consumption.  Make sure cattle have not been deprived of salt before placing mineral out. Use salt alone in your feeders for a week before offering mineral, so cattle don’t overeat product placed in the feeder. Salt provides cattle with sodium and chloride, which are necessary for body processes to function normally and can help to regulate their mineral intake. A Visit with ADM Animal Nutrition By Patti Wilson Contributing Editor MINERAL SUPPLEMENTS: Why Do We Need Them? Mineral supplementation programs offer long-term benefits. Supplementation allows cattle of all classes the best chance to handle stress and maintain good health and productivity. Continued on page 38 