Ideally, all nutritional requirements of livestock would be satisfied by available forage. Real-world livestock management presents a variety of nutritional challenges, one of which is meeting a herd’s mineral needs. Mineral nutrition is the foundation of animal health and determines how effectively forage is used. While forage conditions are easy to see and deservedly receive the highest priority, mineral conditions are harder to assess and therefore easier to overlook.
There are as many approaches to livestock mineral nutrition as there are elements on the periodic table and the success of a mineral program depends on a given situation. Variables that contribute to overall mineral availability include forage composition, water source(s), geological features and soil quality. An understanding of these factors can inform a farm’s approach to mineral supplementation.
A good starting point for livestock mineral supplementation includes a salt source and a source of stable, bioavailable and balanced trace-minerals. The following options can be blended or offered free-choice as the foundation of a mineral program:
- Naturally mined, unprocessed sea salts - in addition to sodium and chloride these contain many naturally occurring trace minerals. Redmond Ag and Sea Agri are both excellent sea salts. As a naturally occurring complex, the minerals in these sea salts are inherently stable.
- A calcium-based trace mineral - these act as a rumen buffer and often contain additional minerals in forms that support toxin-binding and enhance feed-conversion. Redmond Conditioner is a calcium-rich, Montmorillinite clay from ancient volcanic deposits and an excellent compliment to sea salt.
- Kelp - Thorvin Icelandic Kelp and Sea Life North Atlantic Kelp provide essential vitamins and an abundance of organic trace minerals in forms that compliment sea salt and Montmorillonite clays.
This basic mineral program is often all that is required for optimal animal performance. In situations that require more supplementation, this will be a great starting point.