Are your cows getting all the minerals they need?
Is there something missing in your cow's diet?
How would you know if there was something missing?
How can you be sure your cows are getting all the minerals they need to be healthy?
I wrote a post a while ago about "hidden hunger." Go here to read about it. I find it fascinating.
Most of the folks I know in the cattle-world emphasize the importance of a "Good Mineral Program." It is the topic of discussions at the vet, in the fields, and at various cattle oriented events.
If you are wondering (like me) what a "Good Mineral Program" is - you have come to the right place!
When I first got my cow I put out salt blocks. I got the red ones instead of the white ones because they were better. After talking with a few dairy experts and attending some Kentucky Cattleman Meetings, I learned that loose minerals were superior to mineral blocks.
So I switched to loose minerals ....
After hearing a feed-expert talk at a Kentucky Cattleman Meeting, I bought his best minerals. His minerals were very high quality, and they were all combined into one bag. After switching to his super-minerals, something still seemed to be missing in my cow's diets.
We have dealt with mastitis, milk fever, ketosis and infertility. Could these problems be due to something that was missing? Maybe.
Here's the overview:
Most minerals that are sold for cattle are all combined together in a bag or block. When all the minerals are mixed together the cows can't take in JUST the minerals they need. When they lick the mineral block, or eat the loose minerals they have to take in all the minerals in that block (or bag) just to get the ones they need.
Let's say your cow needs calcium ... in order to get more calcium, she will have to take in 14-plus other minerals just to get more calcium. This can result in the cow not getting enough of something or too much of something else.
Helfer minerals are different. Helfter separates the minerals so they are all free choice. This means the cows can get any minerals they need any time. It's amazing. I have 12 different minerals available to my cows and they only take what they need.
We have a wonderful pile of random wood in our big red barn. Anytime we have leftover wood it goes here, and I am always collecting wood for our scrap pile. When friends are knocking down old barns - I'll take some wood. When the big-box home improvement store throws away warped wood - I'll take it. When our local store throws out pallets - I'll take them too. I am not picky.
If it's free wood - I'll take it.
With my free wood, a chop-saw and some drywall screws I made this.
We put our mineral program in the back of the run-in to protect it from the weather. My oldest daughter and I poured the 12 minerals into the slots.
We couldn't even get all the minerals into the slots before the cows showed up at the buffet.
"Oh my. Oh yum."
"Nom, munch, slurp."
Once you get the free-choice minerals in front of your cow, prepare to be amazed. In a few days you will know what they were missing. My cows depleted the mineral bin filled with calcium three times in one week.
Helfter minerals are an investment, however, they are organic and will give you peace of mind.
Our cows LOVE their mineral buffet ... and I feel good that I am caring well for my animals.
Healthy, spoiled cows.