NDSU, SDSU Extension holding cattle mineral program

JSSPA Extension Information

Minerals are a small but critical component of beef cow diets.

“Providing the correct mineral supplement is necessary to ensure optimal health, performance and reproduction,” said Janna Block, Extension livestock systems specialist at North Dakota State University’s Hettinger Research Extension Center.

The costs of mineral supplementation vary widely, but most estimates are from $20 to $50 per cow per year.

“Due to the importance of minerals and the investment required, it is imperative for producers to develop a good understanding of mineral supplement options to choose the best products for an individual ranch,” Block says.

“However, mineral supplementation can be a confusing and complex issue,” she adds. “For example, supplementation is complicated by factors such as interactions among certain minerals that can affect requirements and the ability of the animal to utilize available minerals.”


Extension professionals in North Dakota and South Dakota are offering an educational program focused on beef cattle mineral nutrition to assist producers in developing effective and cost-efficient mineral programs based on individual production situations.

The core components of this program include workshops, ranch visits, individual follow-up consultations and tools to help producers critically evaluate their mineral program and modify it if necessary.

The program typically consists of a one-day workshop in May, followed by sample collection and ranch visits during the summer and a final one-day training in October. This year, due to social distancing restrictions, content that typically would be presented at the initial meeting in May will be split into four sessions that will be delivered to participants via live webinar.

Dates and topics for the webinar series and the presenters are:

  • May 19, 6-7:30 p.m. MDT/7-8:30 p.m. CDT - Diagnostics of mineral issues in North and South Dakota, Jeffery Hall, Utah State University, licensed veterinarian and board certified in veterinary toxicology
  • May 21, 6-7:30 p.m. MDT/7-8:30 p.m. CDT - Mineral program options and basic mineral nutrition, Block
  • May 26, 6-7:30 p.m. MDT/7-8:30 p.m. CDT - Reading mineral tags and monitoring consumption, Adele Harty, South Dakota State University (SDSU) Extension cow-calf field specialist
  • May 28, 6-7:30 p.m. MDT/7-8:30 p.m. CDT - How animal grazing behavior impacts mineral intake, Ken Olson, SDSU Extension beef specialist

One of the most important components of this program is collection and analysis of forage, other feedstuffs and water samples for mineral content. Forage is one of the main mineral sources for the majority of beef cattle herds; however, few producers have used mineral analysis in grazed or harvested forages or other feeds. Instructors will discuss proper sampling methods and help producers interpret and utilize their information when evaluating mineral programs.
Tools will be provided to monitor mineral consumption throughout the summer to determine whether cattle are consuming mineral at the appropriate level. Presenters will provide tips and tricks to troubleshoot consumption challenges. During the summer, SDSU and NDSU Extension personnel plan to conduct ranch visits to focus on specific needs of each producer.

The final workshop session in the fall may be presented via webinar or in a face-to-face format. That session will include additional information about applied mineral nutrition, including suggestions for managing mineral consumption problems.

Sponsors of the program are Micronutrients, a Nutreco company, and Ward Laboratories Inc.

The registration fee for this program is $130 per operation. This helps cover costs for materials, mileage and ranch consultations. Program participants will receive one free forage analysis and one free water analysis, with all subsequent samples at a discounted rate for being part of the program. This discount is good for a 12-month period to allow for analysis of a year-round feeding program.


To register, go to . Registration will be open until May 18.

For more information, North Dakota producers should contact their local NDSU Extension agent or Block at 701-567-4323 or . South Dakota producers should contact Harty at 605-441-5870 or .

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