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Apr 19, 2005
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east colorado
BOOOOOOOOOOOOO on the lick tubs.

Good mineral program will cost you about 5 cents a day and not much more than that with IGR added. We figured the cost for yearlings to add IGR and it was cheaper than fly tags.

Your feed man got next to you. Why would you need to add protein in the summer? Protien costs way too much money and the mineral gets in pockets in the tubs and is not an efficient way to get mineral into your cattle.

Is your feed man a feed salesman or a feed rep? I have a story about that, but I cannot lay my hands on it. Is he working for you or for himself? Our company sells molasses tubs and we wouldn't think of selling them during the spring/summer/green grass/ to our customers. Do you realize extra protein is a detriment to getting cattle bred? Here is a copy of an article from David Price, PhD.

"The column on pasture breeding problems generated more mail than any other. All the letters alluded to the same scenario discussed in the column:poor conception rates for cows or heifers run on lush high-protein forage. The only real difference was that some were high protein grasses such as rye, oats or wheat, whereas others were legumes such as clover or alfalfa.

I became aware of the problem when called in on a breeding failure on wheat pasture. The blame had been placed on estrogenic activity. I couldn't buy the diagnosis, but had no explanation.

One day, I found a research report on dairy cows fed high protein lactation rations. The researchers reported that excess protein in the rations changed the pH of uterine fluid. Possibly as a result, cows fed these high protein rations had exceedlingly poor pregrancy rates.

I theorized that the high protein content of these pastures, not estrogenic activity, was causing the breeding problems. I postulated the theory based on Australian research showing the estrogenic effect of lush alfalfa not to be great enough to interfere with cycling in cows.

The letters I've received have firmly convinced me the problem is PROTEIN, not estrogen. Of all the letters that discussed breeding problems in detail, nearly all mentioned the cows 'settling', then later coming into heat. If the problem were estrogens, the cows wouldn't settle. They would appear to be continually in heat.

This was seen in the dairy cow research. The cows would conceive, but the fertilized ova would not implant in the uterus. (It's not known if the pH change kills the embryo outright or won't let it adhere to the uterine wall.)

I must stress that there's nothing inherently wrong with lush, high-protein pastures. We just have to remove cows or heifers about two weeks before breeding and put them on more moderate protein levels. This approach has worked. Clients experiencing breeding problems have since reported 90% plus breed-ups." (end of Dr. Price's article.)

longjohn, I sincerely hope you will give this some thought. All you are doing with the lick tubs is using it as a medium to get the IGR into the cows and it is a mighty expensive way to do so. Also, you could be doing more harm than good adding PROTEIN to their diet at that time of year.

I looked to see where you are located and it isn't listed. In our country here in SE Montana, we have run grass samples and in May and June our native grass runs 18% protein. Crested wheat is even higher. Adding protein is totally unnecessary and very expensive.

Just get a good mineral with IGR and save your money. You will also get, in a good mineral, yeast culture which is way more important that protein at that time of year. Molasses upsets the ph in the rumen as well, if too much is consumed. You could have an expensive problem on your hands. If the mineral you consider doesn't contain yeast culture, DO NOT BUY IT.

You asked, and I hope this helps.

Educating ranchers against buying feedstuff they don't need is my passion. I hate it when I think they have been sold a bill of goods. Mostly we need to feed what we can raise and leave the rest of it alone. Saves alot of money and problems. As an industry we have been oversold protein for years! Sad, but very true!
You certainly have a, "passion" for nutrition specifically mineral FH. And I might add well documented.
I have played around with different minerals for better then 35 yrs and have seen dramatic results,as "all minerals are not created equal." I also agree with FH yeast culture makes good mineral better. In addition to mineral programs, energy is another key ingrediant in a succesful breeding program. I am a "dealer" for one company, but also use or have used minerals from different reputable companies. The only difference between the better programs sometimes is price. I also admit that I have had a difficult time accepting the lower phos recomendation from FH`s brand, but will be useing it for the second year of continious use on the same group of cows. Results seem to as good through the first year. I know the new reccomended mineral reqirements came from studies by scientists not feed companies.
Thanks, EJ. I sincerely appreciate what you posted and agree totally with your statement of seeing 'dramatic results' from feeding mineral. True story for us, as well. It is amazing the problems that go away and the increase in performance that is realized when on good nutrition. Nutrition and genetics are the foundation for performance and go hand-in-hand.

Remember, partly the deal with the lower phos is that cattle eat grams not percents. So a higher percent of phos doesn't do much good if the cattle won't eat the mineral. Phos is bitter and it is hard to get a high phos mineral into the cattle. Phosphorus is the most expensive ingredient in mineral and if more is added than required, it drives the price of the mineral up. I hate to see producers pay for something they don't need. We have been on this program for going on 11 years and I can honestly tell you that we have eliminated almost every problem. Of course, our cows get fed well, we don't expect the mineral to do it alone. By fed well, I don't mean second cutting alfalfa hay either. I mean a balance of CRP hay, some alfalfa hay for protein, and grass hay. They look good and are nutritionally sound. I didn't think the day would ever come when we would calve out without losing a calf or doctoring any. That has happened last year and now this year. Believe me, after what we have been through, we never will take it for granted. We remember to count our blessings.

Sick cattle are not normal, healthy cattle are normal if you provide what is lacking in their diet, and most times it is NOT PROTEIN. 10% protein hay is good enough for a range cow. I don't think a lot of people know that. They add protein and skip mineral. Just doesn't work. I read all the things on this board about doctoring cattle. Tsk, tsk. Just getting them on good mineral could make their life easier and the cattle would do better. If I were them, I would try a good mineral program on one bunch of yearlings or cows, just to prove the benefits to myself.

Only problem with a good mineral program, is the horses don't get used as much!!!

And I agree with you about energy. Everything you read stresses energy anymore. In fact, articles now say to meet the energy requirements and the protein requirements will take care of itself. Wonder why the 'feed stores' don't read this stuff? Maybe because energy is cheap and they have made their living off of selling high priced protein.

I have a chart put out by Western Beef Producer that compares the price of protein from many sources. Boy, is that an eye-opener. According to their findings, alfalfa hay at $130/ton is the cheapest protein available. Yet, long time ranchers would choke at paying $130/ton for alfalfa, but will pay $500/ton for protein from a feed store. Alfalfa, especially second cutting should be used as a supplement to other forage, not meant as a complete diet. It is just way too rich for range cattle. If we remember to try to feed what we grow on our ranch, we can get by pretty well. Mixing different kinds of hay seems to be a real good thing to do and keep problems to a minimum.

Understand what I am discussing here is feeding cattle hay during the winter. The guys feeding cake on grass is a different matter. Cattle need extra protein to digest the dry grass. Not many ranchers do it, but alfalfa hay can be a cheaper alternative to cake, plus they get more dry matter out of the hay than they do the cake and it is usually cheaper per pound of protein. However, getting it to cows on range presents another problem~therefore the use of cake is the most practical choice.

My advice generally is "feed what you can that you raise on your ranch. Supplement only what you KNOW to be lacking, which in our area is copper, zinc and other trace minerals. One of the cheapest things you can do is run a forage test on your hay. Money spent there can save you thousands of dollars."
I used to feed what the local elevator sold and I seemed to always have some kind of problem - - retained placentas, weak calves, unthrifty cows then started on a year around mineral program that includes IGR about 9 months of the year in this area and I now go and monitor my cattle instead of treating them - - - I have not pulled a calf in years, am calving in less than 45 days ( I'm going for less than 30 days) having about 5% of the cows with twin calves! I feel most of the improvment is in the minerals - - you need to sample your forage and hay because with different fertilizer treatments your requirements might now be what your neighbors are. Good mineral programs DO NOT COST - - - THEY PAY!!! I have not tried the cargil "right now" program but it seems to make sense to me. Get rid of all salt blocks - - they were better than nothing when I started feeding cattle in the 1950s but then my WD45 Allis Chalmers was better at pulling a plow than my horse - - - the WD45 is gone and so are my salt blocks.
I LOVE IT!! Well said.

Right Now mineral particles are larger than what they should be. I suppose it costs more to get the particles finer. There has been a lot of reasearch into the best particle size that can be best utilized by the cow.

My recommendation; Vigortone mineral. In a heartbeat.
I don't disagree with your subject matter, but where is my nearest dealer, and or the guy who will help me soil sample to find out what I need, or don't?
The preceding about protien vs. energy is right on in my experience. Fit the cow to the country and fill the little holes in seems about right.
that was a good sermon on the proper BALANCING OF NUTRIENTS. :clap:
My graduate work was with manipulating reproduction with nutrition, kept coming across all of these studies that resulted with repro loss due to high protein diets, due to high levels of nitrogen in the urine that causes the pH change which in turn kills sperm. No one wanted to believe that because we have always "flushed our cows with protein". The secrete is to feed the protein in the postpartum period for about 60 days, then stop before breeding actually begins. You are correct, tubs are the most expensive form of protein next to some lick tanks, and most of the time the guy who buys doesn't need it anyway but they are "sold" a bill of goods. Currently, at NMSU they are finding which amino acids actually aid during the postpartum period so that we can feed very small amounts of specific amino acids in a mineral type supplement and increase repro rate without increasing the expense. Hope it works, :!: :!:
just had another thought, Dr. Ray Ansotegui at MSU is probably the best known mineral nutritionist in this neck of the woods, in class he would tell you this, "would you like to use a salt shaker on your table or would you like for me to place a 50 # block of salt on the table and you can lick off what you want with your meal?". MY humble opinion is not in favor of licks of any kind. Makes my tongue hurt
I don't know where you are from but you can go to sites like www.vigortone.com or www.cargil.com and locate a dealer or go to google. I happen to live in Indiana and have access to much help - - - your Vet should be able to point you in the right direction or if you have a good feed supplier ( not someone who is pushing the product with the largest profit margin) they should know where you can get the correct info.
One thing that bothers me~Dr. Ray used to promote that you don't need to feed mineral year-round. What we have found is that cattle will eat the same amount of mineral in a year, whether you feed it in 6 months or 12. We have feedback from customers that have cattle in different areas during the summer. When the cattle are in an area where they don't eat much mineral during the summer, when they are at home during the winter they will eat a lot more mineral than the cows that ate mineral at a fairly consistent level during the summer.

We advise producers to figure the mineral consumption over a years time. If you try to figure it out by week or by month, it could drive you nuts. Cattle eat mineral in peaks and valleys. If asked, we figure consumpion by the year for our customers and it is amazing that it hits right on what is recommended. We have one customer that has a Vigorbin. He buys the mineral bulk and puts it in the bin. He uses a cake feeder, drives under the bin, loads up the mineral and drives out and fills troughs with the mineral. We figured up how many cows, how many days and how much mineral he fed over the winter. The result: 3.5 oz. per head per day. PERFECT!

The first rule of mineral is that "QUALTIY AND QUANTITY OF FORAGE DICTATES MINERAL CONSUMPTION." Therefore when grass is green and plentiful, mineral consumption will go down. As the grass dries up and becomes less digestible, mineral consumption will rise. I have observed this for 11 years now, and it never fails. Feeding hay in winter time will also show this. Feed sorry hay and/or not enough and the cows will really attack the mineral. Feed a balanced diet of hay and the right amount and the mineral consumption will show that. It is so interesting and so educational if we will but pay attention to what those old cows tell us.

We use mineral consumption as a management tool. If are cows are in pasture and start hitting the mineral really hard, we move the cows because they are telling us the 'good' is gone. (Some years this is easier to do than others~I am sure you know what I mean~)


BTW I love this subject.
I like my old Vigortone mineral feeder so well that I ordered two more about two weeks ago with face fly options and a new curtain for my existing feeder. Today I got a call from my dealer that they have quit offering the face fly option and cannot even supply me with a replacement curtain. I cancelled my order! Does any one know where I can a replacement curtain? It looks like a string mop with a sleve made in the top that slides over the tank.
I cannot understand why a company would drop an option like that - - -possibly I am in the very small group that purchased and felt it very usefull in my over all herd health.

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