Monitor Mineral Consumption for Cows

June 13, 2014 04:31 AM
Monitor Mineral Consumption for Cows

Cow-calf producers should closely monitor animal mineral consumption.
By: Donald Stotts, Oklahoma State University

A consistent and appropriate intake of medicated minerals is critical to a successful anaplasmosis prevention program, but cow-calf producers need to closely monitor that label-recommended amounts are being consumed by the cattle.

The most popular means of anaplasmosis prevention is the use of mineral mixes that contain chlortetracycline (CTC). According to the November 2013 issue of Veterinary Entomology, vol. 6, issue 4, CTC will reduce the risk of anaplasmosis infections when fed at a rate of 0.5 milligrams per pound of body weight.

"However, producers need to be aware CTC is added to minerals for several different reasons, and these other uses require different levels of drug in the mineral," said Glenn Selk, Oklahoma State University Cooperative Extension emeritus animal scientist.

Selk cautions producers to make sure the product label states it is formulated at a rate for the prevention of anaplasmosis and gives the specific amount of daily consumption needed to supply that level.

The next step is for the cow-calf operator to monitor his or her herd to make sure the product is being consumed at the appropriate rate. If not, the producer may need to look at other products or change management practices in order to correct consumption deficits.

"A producer needs to be aware recovered animals will be carriers of the disease and a source of infection for susceptible individuals," Selk said. "General management recommendations are to clear them of the organism with high levels of antibiotics administered parentally, isolate them from susceptible animals or cull them from the herd."

Placement of mineral feeders and blocks can aid in achieving optimum mineral intake. Place them in areas where cattle spend a lot of time: loafing areas, near water sources, in shady areas or any other location that tends be a popular place for the herd to congregate.

"A rule of thumb is to provide one mineral feeding station for every 30 to 50 cows," Selk said. "Check feeders at least once a week and keep a clean, fresh supply of minerals present at all times."

A good feeder should keep minerals dry, be portable and hold up to abuse and corrosion. Open tubs are not adequate in high rainfall areas.

"Summer is often a busy time of year for ranchers, especially during haying season," Selk said. "Don't forget to check the mineral feeders or blocks to be certain they are supplying the minerals needed by the herd."

Selk recommends producers with questions about anaplasmosis prevention or who suspect an animal in their herd has anaplasmosis to contact their veterinarian for help with treatment.

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