Cows and Cattle
Cattle Diets and Nutrition

Why do cattle need salt mineral blocks to lick?


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2010-02-01 20:45:53
2010-02-01 20:45:53

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.


Related Questions

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 mineral" blocks, this means that 95 to 98% of the block is comprised of salt, while the other 5 to 2%, respectively, is composed of mineral.

yes if your horse is lacking minerals. a mineral block will help put minerals into its diet and plus horses like them to lick

Livestock (in this case referring to cattle) usually don't eat pine trees, particularly if they have all the nutritional requirements of their diet met. In this case, it doesn't sound like a particular nutrient has been met, hence their need or want to strip bark off of trees or, if you have wood fences, chew on the wood boards. This particular mineral is Phosphorus, and is usually not found in most mineral blocks purchased at your local farm store. Most mineral blocks are "trace mineral" blocks, which means they have 95% salt and 5% micro-minerals consisting of elements like copper, iron, iodide, cobalt, molybdenum, magnesium, manganese, and sometimes selenium if they're advertised or labelled as selenium blocks. Phosphorus is a macro-mineral, along with calcium, nitrogen, potassium and sodium. Without knowing what sort of "diet" your cattle are on, (though I assume it is grass-fed with no grain, from the sounds of what they have access to), it is hard to pin-point or let you know what exactly can be done to curb the problem of your animals consuming and killing your trees. However, what can be suggested is to add in another supplement that has phosphorus in it, such as loose mineral, or find a mineral block that has higher levels of phosphorus than the one you have always been feeding. I mentioned before how TM (trace mineral blocks) are not enough to satisfy your animals' needs, but that isn't exactly truthful because cattle actually need a lot more salt than minerals, even though some producers claim that cattle will lick and lick away at the block and not get much from it except a lot of salt. You can still opt to feed them the TM block and add some sort of supplement that is high in phosphorus (such as grain), or you can switch your mineral program and feed loose mineral with salt in it. Depending on the mix of the loose mineral and what your cattle have access to, loose mineral mixes usually come in a 2:1 or 1:1 calcium:phosphorus ratio. The first is for cattle with little access to feeds or forage high in calcium, the former for those who have lots of access to feeds high in calcium but little phosphorus. You will need to check with your local feed supplier to see what mineral supplement is right for you and your animals.

Yes. Domestic horses are often lacking in the minerals they need because they are not allowed to run around over acres and acres of land with different grasses, dirt and trees to eat and lick to get the minerals they need. This is when a mineral block comes into play. The horse should have access to a mineral blaock designed specifically for horses 24/7 so that they can give themselves the minerals they need.

Yes. Buffalo have the same (or similar) mineral requirements as cattle do.

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 other minerals like Cobalt, Selenium, Iron, Copper, Manganese, Magnesium, Calcium, etc. depending on the kind of cattle you are raising.

Food, water, mineral, and other cattle to socialize with, as well as room to move around.

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% salt and the rest mineral. If the calves are unweaned and still dependent on their dam's milk, no. It's their dams that will need it, not the calves themselves.

My rabbit is healthy but has not had one in years. Though it wouldn't hurt to provide one.

You will need a cage, feeder, waterer, mineral lick, some kind of shelter and food. They are very low maintenance.

This is a very important thing to do, yes, because the grass they eat doesn't have all the necessary minerals they need: they need to get it in either loose or block form. Ideally, summer time is best for blocks, and winter for loose, but you can feed loose and/or block all year round, your choice. Just note that mineral blocks have 95% salt in them, not nearly as much mineral as the loose form would have.

Yes. All grazing animals need salt. They also need trace minerals. You can buy salt and mineral blocks for these animals at your local feed store.

Drenches should ONLY be given to cows that are sick, cannot eat or are bloated. A mineral oil drench is given to cattle that are bloated, and a drench containing electrolytes are given to cattle that have severe diarrhea or at the point where they will not eat. DO NOT give drenches to cattle that do not need it!!!

Loose mineral is better than a salt block. You can get minerals for cattle at your local feed store. The standard mineral block is the blue block that contains Cobalt and Iodine. Other blocks contain more minerals, such as Selenium, Iron, Manganese, Potassium, Magnesium, Copper, etc. There are also mineral mix that contains proteins (be very careful about this due to concerns w/ BSE) and calcium for breeding herds/lactating cows. You can get a specific mineral mix from your local feed mill according to the kind of cows you have and what you feed them.

Calves need a higher ration of energy, calcium, phosphorus, and essential vitamins and minerals than mature cows do. Milk, grain and grass as well as a mineral lick and water will help meet these needs.

a mineral needs to have color,luster,hardness,streack to be a mineral

First of need to learn how to spell. "Why do dogs lick themselves?" The answer is...................... because they can.

You need to lick the thing they peed on and then lick the toilet when they pee in it and compare.

It depends on whether they've been lacking mineral for a long period of time or not. Usually when cattle have not had access to a certain type of mineral or even a mineral block for a long period of time, they will try to "eat" as much of it as they can until they are satisfied. You may say that they can eat too much mineral in one sitting, but often the level of mineral that a cow ingests is not enough to cause significant toxicity to her. Most of it will be expelled out of her system as feces and/or urine. But, if you keep up with a good mineral program and keep adding the same minerals that your cattle need, they won't over indulge on it because it's in their system and they're not deficient for it.

Redstone blocks? You need an iron pickaxe.

Sodium should be fed free-choice as Salt (NaCl), which is found in most commercially made salt blocks or loose salt-mineral mixes.

Redstone blocks? You need an iron pickaxe.

7 different of mineral

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