Why do cattle need salt mineral blocks to lick?

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Mineral licks are very important to the health and performance of all livestock. Without essential vitamins and minerals, major health problems arise that could've been avoided by supplementing animals with loose mineral or a salt block.

For example, Selenium deficiency in cows results in a higher death rate in calves due to them dying of a condition called White Muscle Disease were muscle looks white instead of red, heart failure, and paralysis evidenced by lameness or inability to stand (downer cow).

Magnesium deficiency in early lactating cows on pasture is what is called Grass Tetany, a highly fatal disease that could result in loss of animals if they are not treated right away.

Calcium deficiency results in many forms: Milk fever, Osteomalacia, and Rickets in calves. Calcium is essential for lactating cows and nursing calves, as well as growing stock, as calcium is essential for strong bones and teeth, milk production, transmission of nerve impulses, maintenance of normal muscle excitability, regulation of heart beat, movement of muscles, blood clotting, and activation and stabilization of enzymes.

Phosphorus deficiency leads to what is known as Pica, where cows, who are intensely deficient of P will chew bones or eat other animals to meet their phosphorous needs, and will also chew on wood or soil, and will also show signs of decreased growth rates, inefficient feed ultilization, anestrus, poor reproductive abilities, weak fragile bones and joint stiffness.

Salt deficiencies is more troublesome in cattle, as they always need salt every day for: (Na) osmotic pressure maintenance, acid-base balance, body-fluid balance, nerve transmission and active transport of amino acids, as well as cellular uptake of glucose carrier protein, and Na, as a part of salt, is a major cation of extracellular fluid and provides the majority of alkaline reserve in plasma. Chlorine is necessary for activation of amylase, formation of gastric HCl acid, and is involved in respiration and regulation of blood pH. Deficiency of salt include muscle cramps, rough coat, decreased feed intake, licking and chewing various objects, as well as decreased production. Dairy cows get hit the hardest first with salt deficiency, and may collapse and die if they have been salt deficient for a long period of time.

Other necessary minerals that cattle must have access to are: Potassium, Sulfur, Cobalt, Iodine, Molybdenum, Manganese, Zinc, Copper, and Iron.

Essential vitamins include: Vitamin A, Vitamin D, Vitamin E, Vitamin K, and B Vitamins. However, Vitamins E, K and B vitamins do not usually need to be supplemented so long as they have adequate quality forage and pasture. Vitamin A however should be injected into newborn calves.
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Why do ranchers put out blocks of salt for cattle to lick?

Most ranchers will put out salt licks when there is little chance of their herd getting enough elements from the earth. Sometimes there is enough natural occurring salts that

Should goats lick on a salt block?

Yes, goats should have supplemental minerals in some form. You can use a salt block, but a mineral block is better. Some goats prefer loose minerals.

Why do horses lick salt blocks?

Just like us, horses need certain minerals to stay healthy. Most horses today are not kept in places where they could find these minerals on their own. So owners must provide

Why do you use iodine salt lick for cattle?

Because often the areas they graze in are iodine deficient, and thus they need iodine along with the normal sodium and chlorine (aka salt) intake. Other mineral licks include

What are the ingredients in a cattle salt lick?

Blue blocks contain NaCl (table salt), Cobalt and Iodine. Red blocks contain Salt, Iron and Iodine. Brown blocks contain Salt, Cobalt, Iodine, Iron, Zinc, Copper, Mangan
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Do calves need trace mineral salt blocks?

It depends on the age of the calves themselves. If they're wearers, yes, definitely; either that or else salt and mineral in the loose form, since trace blocks are really 95%
In Cattle Diets and Nutrition

Do cattle need a mineral block and a separate salt block?

No. All mineral blocks have enough salt in them to sustain cattle alone without having to have an additional salt block set out. Because mineral blocks are called "trace miner