July 25, 2016

(Dan Thomson) Hey folks, welcome to DocTalk. We’re going to have a great show today. It’s a discussion that we have every year; it’s how we supplement minerals and make sure the mineral status for a cowherd is adequate. We have Dr. Chris Reinhardt from Kansas State University with us today over in the department of Animal Sciences. Stay tuned and enjoy the show after these messages.

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(Dan) Dr. Reinhardt, welcome to the show. (Chris Reinhardt) Great, great to be here. (Dan) Well, folks, again, this is Dr. Chris Reinhardt. He’s a friend and colleague here. He’s a Ruminant Nutritionist. He’s our State Feedlot Extension Specialist for the State of Kansas, but does a lot of work in ruminant nutrition whether it’s cows on pasture, stocker cattle, feedlot cattle and we’re going to talk about minerals. (Chris) It’s important. (Dan) Yes, it certainly is. So as we’re setting up for this show, you kind of have a way that you attack this and it would be natural for us to just do that during the show but first you want to figure out what it is the cow needs, determine that cow’s requirements and how do you go about doing it? (Chris) Well, the main thing is what stage of production is she in? Is she a dry cow gestating a calf or is she lactating? Those are kind of the two biggies and when they’re lactating, their requirement for virtually everything: energy, protein, water, and minerals, all kind of go through the roof. So during lactation, especially early lactation, we’ve got to really pay attention to the mineral balance. (Dan) So the first thing is, is get the physiological state and those are going to be: is she growing, is she mature, gestating, lactating, and use all of those to determine the requirements. So as the year changes or as the physiological status in a cowherd changes, our requirements are going to change. (Chris) That’s exactly right. (Dan) And what about size of the cows? Does that play a role as much in minerals as it does in energy or things? (Chris) Definitely. Our cowherd has changed since your granddaddy’s days and these bigger cows have a bigger requirement, again, for about everything and we’ve got to take that into account when it comes time for feeding minerals. (Dan) Okay, and so talk to me a little bit about the differences in some of the changes that you see that they’re the ones we need to stay particularly focused on. (Chris) Phosphorus is the one that always comes to mind when we’re talking about minerals. Going back into the 1930s, 1940s was when we really figured out, especially in the range country, the open range country, we get into the dry late summer, fall, winter months, phosphorus in the forage base goes to almost nothing and in the ‘30s and ‘40s we found some significant phosphorus deficiencies and it causes tremendous problems. Cows just flat wouldn’t breed if they didn’t have enough phosphorus and so in decades after that, we really learned a lot about how to make sure those cows were getting the right number one, phosphorus levels but then also that led to a better understanding of the other minerals as well. (Dan) Okay, so when we start to think about minerals and we start to think about is there a difference in stage of the forage in the animals’ requirements? (Chris) Definitely. If in the ideal circumstance the forage is at its perfect peak in terms of quality and quantity available and that cow is eating a lot of that beautiful green forage depending on where you live, it nearly if not totally meets that cow’s requirements. However if we’re off sync and we’re calving in late winter, early spring before the grass comes up, we’re going to have to think about supplementation. (Dan) Cool. Well, let’s take a break and when we come back, we’re going to discuss more about determining what we need to supplement that cow with after we get the requirements nailed down based on forage, based on feed, many different things to weigh in when you’re considering mineral supplementation for your cows. You’re watching DocTalk, more after these messages.

(Dan) Hey folks, welcome back to DocTalk. Dr. Dan and Dr. Chris. We’re here at Kansas State University. Dr. Reinhardt is part of the Department of Animal Sciences and Industries and I’m over here at the College of Vet Med. We do a lot of work together and it’s fun for me to have Chris on the show. Truly a servant leader for our beef industry and a lot of things that he does and a good friend. So let’s talk about the minerals and as we left, we were discussing and you said, Hey, we didn’t get that covered well enough. Let’s step back, let’s cover the cyclic nature of forages that we have in the pasture and making decisions. (Chris) You think about your standing forage base and in most parts of the country in the spring of the year we’ve got tremendous volume but also tremendous quality and that forage base at its peak has almost everything that a cow needs even if she’s at the peak of lactation. Heavy milking cows, maybe not, but if we get that – her need off synchrony with the value of that grass, we have to start talking about supplementation because after the peak of that grass whether it’s April, May, June, depending on where you live, it starts to decline in quality: lower protein, lower energy and lower phosphorus, lower trace mineral content and that’s when we have to start thinking about supplementation, free-choice minerals, however you want to work that. We get into late summer, fall, winter and the forage quality is bottomed out. That’s when we’re going to be bringing in supplemental feeds regardless of what you have available in your area and then we have to start taking into account the mineral value of those supplemental feeds. (Dan) Okay. And so, yes. So now we’re talking about two totally different- so we have our forage base and then if you’re adding energy or protein, you may be dragging the minerals in with it as well. (Chris) Exactly. (Dan) Okay, so where do we go from there? I mean so now you’ve determined the requirements of the cow based on the physiological status, you’ve looked at your forage quality and quantity and either you’re supplementing or not. Now what do you do? (Chris) Exactly. We figured out what the cow needs, we figured out what the cow has available on her own and then we’ve got to shore up whatever difference there might be in the form of whether it’d be free-choice mineral or force-fed mineral. (Dan) Seems like pretty much simple math. (Chris) That’s what it comes down to. When we get a curve ball or things like drought or maybe if you’re calving real early, maybe you’ve gone to a late season calving, but drought is the real curve ball where we’ve got – we can’t rely on what the grass normally provides and we’re going to be bringing in some supplemental feeds, maybe even mid-summer, things of that nature. (Dan) So how do I go about – let’s say I want to find out what I have in the pasture, what’s a good technique to do it? (Chris) Typically your Local Extension Office will have really good local values for that local forage base, but you can also forage clippings. The real critical one is to sample your hay supply because that’s going to vary year by year, cutting by cutting, and we have to know what we have so we know how much we need to supplement and we don’t want to over-supplement as well. (Dan) Or when you think about how much cows are worth, how much feed is worth, it’s a pretty simple task to go out and take some forage clippings. We used to use a Frisbee to get random samples throughout the pasture and get 10 samples, throw a Frisbee, go take a one yard by one yard clipping, mix those clippings together to get a good representation of what we have out there in the pasture. (Chris) Exactly. You have to know what you have. (Dan) Yes. When we come back, we’re going to do more with Dr. Reinhardt here on defining some of the things to help you determine what you need to do for mineral supplementation in your cowherd. You’re watching DocTalk. We’ll be back after these messages.

(Dan) Folks, welcome back to DocTalk. Dr. Dan Thomson here with Dr. Chris Reinhardt. He’s a Ruminant Nutritionist and our State Feedlot Extension Specialist in the State of Kansas over in the Department of Animal Sciences and Industries and Chris, we’re talking about supplementing these cows and we tend to focus on getting those cows through the winter and we tend on focusing on body condition score on our cows, but there’s some things that we can do supplementing the cow that would have a positive impact on calf health and the calf vigor when they’re born. (Chris) Exactly. We do spend a tremendous amount of time on making sure that cow calves in an optimum body condition score because of how that’s going to affect the quality of her colostrum and how much she makes, her ability to cycle back in a timely fashion, but the thing that often gets neglected is the fact that that cow’s milk has very little to almost no trace mineral content whatsoever. So basically that calf is born with all the trace minerals he’s going to have until he goes out and starts gathering feed on his own and so we really want to make sure we’ve got that cow in a good trace mineral status throughout gestation, especially the last trimester of gestation to make sure that calf is born with an adequate supply. (Dan) And liver stores and things to that nature and I think that we understand colostrum but basically whether you call it fetal programming or call it just good, solid cow nutrition in the last 90 days, it’s vitally important for both liver mineral stores and building that colostrum for the cow. (Chris) Exactly. The entire life of that calf is going to be determined possibly in the last 90 days of gestation. (Dan) Right and it’s funny because when we were at the Cowboy College, you gave a talk on pre-calving and post-calving nutrition and so I asked you what else is there. (Chris) What else is there? (Dan) I cover nutrition during calving, Dr. Reinhardt talks in his book- (Chris) And I cover the rest. (Dan) – before and after. Through my expertise slides, but anyway, post-calving then, talk to me a little bit about- obviously the calcium and phosphorus are important because of the lactation demands, that peak of lactation that occurs after- what, two-three weeks post-calving? (Chris) Exactly and we spend a lot of time looking at the cows, monitoring body condition and that is absolutely vital for the future productivity of that cow, but the other thing that we can’t see is her trace mineral status and if she’s even marginally deficient, that could affect breed back. (Dan) And it’s amazing to me because people don’t understand how forgiving the cow’s body is of robbing whether it’s mineral stores or energy stores to support lactation for that calf. They’ll give it all up. (Chris) The system is made to where she can store during times of plenty and steal from it later during times of deficit. (Dan) And so keeping a good watch on, not just your body condition scores, but making sure you have that macro mineral supplementation there for calcium and phosphorus especially for lactation and breed back is vitally important. When we come back we’ll touch on the trace minerals with Dr. Chris Reinhardt, in your cowherd, more after these messages.

(Dan) Hey folks, welcome back to DocTalk. Dr. Dan here with Dr. Chris Reinhardt and we are at Kansas State University where Dr. Reinhardt is a Ruminant Nutritionist over in the Department of Animal Sciences and I am a Veterinary Nutritionist over here in the College of Vet Med, but this is something that we could talk about for days and Dr. Reinhardt has done a great job at our Cowboy Colleges that Drover’s puts on of doing the cow-calf nutrition and growing feeder calf nutrition, but let’s talk about the trace minerals, because let’s get into what are some of the key trace minerals that you look at in diets for cattle and then how we incorporate those or what are some of the ways that we can utilize different types of supplementation for these cows. (Chris) You’re exactly right, Doc, the cowherd has changed, the cattle producer has changed over time but in the big picture the cow really hasn’t and her requirements are the same year after year and so that’s why it’s so important that we go back and revisit these things year after year. The trace minerals that I like producers to pay attention to really are what I call The Big Three: copper, zinc and selenium. There are a number of others that are important, that are needed, that are required, that may be deficient, but those three we’ve learned tremendous value for health and reproduction, both of the cow and of the calf. (Dan) So talk to me a little about different ways of supplementing the minerals and out in the pasture and we have tubs, we have trace mineral, we have loose trace minerals, we have blocks, any preferences? (Chris) Well, really the critical elements- there’s two things the rancher needs to take care of: one is making sure the formulation is adequate or ideal for their forage base and their part of the world. There’s certain parts of the country that are extremely deficient in maybe selenium, or copper, or zinc or maybe all three, so you’ve got to make sure the formula is right for your geography, but then the other element that’s even more critical is how well do the cows eat it? The best formula in the world, if the cows don’t eat it, is useless to you as a rancher. So you’ve got to monitor consumption year after year and make sure the cows are eating the right amount to make sure they’re balancing that deficiency. (Dan) And I’m sure that there are weather patterns that are more conducive to one type of supplementation versus another as well, large rainfall versus no rainfall, and different things to that nature. (Chris) Some of the tubs that are mineral-based require humidity to be soft enough for a cow to lick enough of that product, so they work great in the humid areas of the country, like where we are right now and to the southeast. You go to the arid part of the west where especially mid-summer on, there’s just not enough humidity to soften that product and so consumption is going to be affected by that and you just have to account for that. (Dan) Great information, things we need to know, kind of a summary, we need to determine the requirements of the cow, physiological status, weight of the cow, don’t skimp on mineral last 90 days prior to calving because it helps the calf have increased vigor, know what your forage quantity and quality is, get your macro minerals: calcium and phosphorus to make sure that we have cows breed back, micro minerals, but then match your supplementation process or form to your environment. Great information. If you want to know more about DocTalk you can find us on the web at www.doctalktv.com. Always work with your local veterinarian. Thanks for watching this show. I’m Dr. Dan Thomson and I’ll see you down the road.

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