2023 NCBA: Selko’s Chance Farmer shares tips on improving trace mineral consumption

Best management tips to maximize trace mineral consumption in beef cattle
calendar icon 9 February 2023
clock icon 2 minute read

Chance Farmer, beef technical manager with Selko, recently spoke to The Cattle Site’s Sarah Mikesell at the National Cattleman’s Beef Association annual cattle conference in New Orleans about Farmer’s Cattlemen’s College presentation on managing mineral supplementation.

“You can have the best mineral formulation in the world dedicated to meet your cattle’s requirements, but if the cattle won't eat the mineral, it doesn't do much good,” said Farmer.

Best management practices to influence trace mineral consumption

“It's multifaceted, but have your expectations set appropriately and understand that it's not always going to be a 4 oz. per head per day intake,” he said. “Cattle will fluctuate in their intake. Your job is, as a manager, to try to smash down that intake variability over time.”

  • Make sure that your energy and protein requirements are being met. Without this information, it's difficult to get a handle on your mineral supplementation.
  • Ensure phosphorus level isn't so high in your mineral that it backs the cattle away from the mineral, and they fail to consume not just the phosphorus but the other minerals in the supplement.
  • Understand the relationship of your mineral supplement relative to your water location. Moving your mineral closer to water or moving it further away can make a serious adjustment to your mineral intake. Complete mineral supplements tend to contain a fair amount of salt, and water intake can help you manage mineral intake.
  • Consider the trace mineral source being used. Using sulfate sources of copper, zinc and manganese may provide a free metal that comes off in that mineral supplement, giving it a metallic taste.

“If it’s at the top of the mineral feeder, the cattle will get up there and it'll say ‘No, I don't really want to eat that’, so try to use a more improved trace mineral source like IntelliBond from Selko.”

New research on trace minerals

Research conducted at the University of Florida found that cattle preferred to consume mineral supplements with IntelliBond compared to products with the sulfate versions of copper, manganese, and zinc.

“When you get moisture on those sulphate-based trace mineral sources, they tend to leach out because you get free metal, and it'll either go to the bottom of the mineral feeder or if you have holes in your mineral feeder, the mineral just winds up on the ground,” he said. “So, the same product you put in the feeder is not the same product that's in front of the cattle. We've done a fair amount of research on palatability and stability and have found that IntelliBond holds up well to the conditions and cattle choose to eat these types of supplements.”

Sarah Mikesell


Sarah Mikesell grew up on a five-generation family farming operation in Ohio, USA, where her family still farms. She feels extraordinarily lucky to get to do what she loves - write about livestock and crop agriculture. You can find her on Twitter or LinkedIn.

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