Chasing mineral status on our farms
When we look at the mineral status on farms there are often two distinct scenarios.
The first is where we are investigating a mineral deficiency. The second approach is a more long term approach to monitoring minerals on the farm.
With minerals we must remember we are trying to hit optimum levels, this means avoiding deficiencies and also avoiding over supplementations or toxicities.
Minerals can often be over blamed for health and production issues on the farm. We must start an investigation by assessing production and health issues when checking for mineral issues.
When we look at the overall performance we then can begin to focus on where minerals might be causing issues.
Like every process, there must be a return on investment from the testing we do. Farmers will benefit from working with their vets and nutritionist when it comes to minerals.
It really pays to get minerals right in your flock or herd.
We need to look at putting some science to the process
In the video https://youtu.be/Rv4M7JXMlW4 above I outline some simple ideas around mineral sampling
Start with the animals and find out what they are telling us. Minerals are complicated and often interlinked with each other. We must start by looking at the animal signals.
Then we can run some tests on animals to check mineral staus. With blood, urine, and milk being the common samples. For me, blood tests are a good starting point for minerals. Remember though all testing is just pieces of a jigsaw. With copper, we need to consider liver samples.
Yes minerals can be complicated and we need to have the best and clearest picture we can
Forage analysis is also key for mineral analysis both when investigating problems and also planning mineral status for your farm.
This can be grass samples or forage samples like silage. In some intensive systems, there be many inclusions in the diet and they must also be taken into account. All feeds must be considered when working out minerals going into animals.
We can also test the water on some farms. Don’t forget with water what you see and smell, iron will discolor water and sulfur will add its distinctive smell.
I describe minerals like a jigsaw puzzle. The more pieces of the picture we have the more clarity we will often find. The future of our grazing systems must also focus on some current issues we see with minerals and always ask questions like why are some deficiencies occurring?
Watch out for two free upcoming webinars I will be doing in cattle and sheep summer health in association with Nettex.
For the sheep webinar 9/6/20, you can join by clicking the link here https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_lsEqyEIZRd2g6hdS-bVEBA
For our beef webinar 16/9/20 click this link here https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_1RkpnoS3QIKfYaT2_eGgAw
Happy safe farming