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Which Salt Or Mineral Block Is Right For My Livestock?

Minerals and salt are very important in the diets of all types of livestock. Depending on your area, your soils may be deficient in certain minerals that your livestock depend on for health and productivity. Supplementing the intake of salt and minerals is a necessary part of livestock management. Some of the more common minerals which may be deficient include selenium, magnesium, calcium and phosphorus. Insufficient amounts of these minerals can result in disorders ranging from milk fever to grass tetany, which can be fatal. Other deficiencies, such as copper, iron, cobalt, manganese, iodine and sulfur may also cause symptoms ranging from poor appetite to reduced conception.

When an animal is salt deficient, they may lack appetite, lose weight and suffer a decline in milk production. They may exhibit un-coordinated movement, be weak and shiver, and walk stiffly. In high-producing cows, collapse and death has been known to occur. Calves which are salt deficient develop harsh coats, in addition to general bad condition. Salt deficiency is more common in hot weather due to perspiration, but is also dependant on the type of forage available to the animal. Tall fescue, red clover, and alfalfa are natrophobic, meaning that they accumulate sodium in the roots, but not in the stem or leaf. Animals grazing these types of forage require greater salt supplementation.

The lack of magnesium in cattle can result in grass tetany, also called “staggers.” This deficiency most often occurs in animals grazing lush, immature grass, and often results in death. Cows with high milk production may also become magnesium deficient. Studies have shown that inadequate salt intake may increase susceptibility to grass tetany. The consumption of salt and magnesium simultaneously may be necessary for the proper absorption of magnesium. The animals that most often succumb to grass tetany are mature cows nursing calves that are less than two months old, especially heavy milkers. Prevention of grass tetany is important, because the first sign of trouble may be a dead animal. Onset of symptoms to death can occur in two to three hours. Providing free choice mineral supplements containing magnesium is a good way to prevent this terrible disorder. Palatability is a key factor here, so that the animals consume an adequate level of mineral on a daily basis. Consistent supplementation is critical, because magnesium levels in the blood may fall as quickly as 48 hours after consumption ceases.

Selenium deficient animals may fall victim to White Muscle Disease, where muscle appears white rather than red, and paralysis or heart failure may occur. Cases of chronic lameness or the inability to stand (downer cow) may result. Also, irregular estrus cycle, late pregnancy abortions, and stillbirths are signs that your herd may be experiencing selenium deficiency. Calves and lambs are born weak, and young and adult cattle may have diarrhea, lose weight, appear unthrifty, and have a compromised immune system. It is important not to underestimate the importance of this mineral in the diet. Northwestern soils in particular lack sufficient selenium for healthy grazing without supplementation. Blood sampling can determine if your livestock are getting enough of this mineral. Calcium insufficiency presents itself as milk fever, Ricketts in calves, and osteomalacia, a softening of the bones due to bone mineralization. Calcium is essential for lactating animals, nursing babies, and growing stock.

Pica, a medical disorder in which the animal chews bones, wood, or soil, is the result of severe Phosphorus deficiency. These animals will also show signs of decreased growth, disturbances of estrus, fragile bones, and joint stiffness.

Iodine, cobalt, sulfur, manganese, cobalt, iron and zinc, are also minerals which your animals need to have access to. All these are necessary for a healthy coat, a strong immune system, reproductive well-being and fertility, and productivity.

As you can see, a program of proper salt and mineral supplementation is essential to the health and well-being of your livestock. Lakeland Feed and Supply offers many formulations of blocks, loose mineral, and salt, to address the specific needs of your animals. Many of our Redmond Salt products are OMRI listed, and all of our salt products contain over 50 naturally occurring minerals. Redmond Salt comes from a deposit that was covered by volcanic ash millions of years ago, and protected from man-made pollution. No other traditional salt has these unique benefits. Please browse our selection or give us a call to confirm your particular needs.

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