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Discussion Starter #1
I was wondering if I needed to add any loose minerals to my 5 year old jersey cows diet. She is due in about 4-5 weeks. I currently have a mineral block she visits regularly. My question is, do I need to add loose minerals to her diet now or after she calves? Thank you all for your advice.
 

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In many areas of the country (I have no idea where you are) selenium is deficient. Calving troubles increase and the survivability of the calf is lowered when the cow doesn't have enough Selenium. It needs Vit E to be properly absorbed. The better mineral blocks have Selenium, the cheap ones don't.

Make sure your loose mineral has selenium. If the block you have been using doesn't have it and our area is deficient, I'd want to get a syringe of BoSe from my Vet and give her an injection.
 

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Absolutely check your selenium status. You can Google "selenium map" to find out whether your area is low in selenium. Most areas are. Or, you could check with your County Agent. He can tell you your selenium level. A cow that is low in selenium has more problems calving. Her calf is also selenium deficient if she is. Bringing her level up will bring the calf's level up while she is carrying it. That can prevent a lot of problems with the newborn calf. Act quickly. You don't have much time before calving. Like Haypoint said, have the BoSe shot on hand so you can give it right away. Muscle weakness and bent legs are signs that the calf needs the shot.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Thank you all for your advice. I am located in Texas, between Waco and Fort Worth. I did the search for my county's selenium levels and it looks like we are roughly 0.417ppm. I am not an expert but that appears to be on the higher end of the spectrum. More like the high end of moderate, if that makes sense. I will also be on the look out for mineral blocks or loose minerals with selenium to make sure she has what she needs. I will need a new one soon anyways and why skimp on it. Any other advice on the issue is welcomed. Thank you!
 

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Loose minerals are the way to go, but you'll want to remove any available salt blocks. Loose minerals contain salt which is why the cattle eat them. You can check with your ag extension agent for the best formula in your area. Get a good mineral feeder that will keep them dry or feed them in a tub in a shed or barn that the cow(s) can get to when they want.
 

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Mineral blocks are a waste of money, most won't have enough mineral in them to do any actual good. They're called trace mineral blocks for a reason.
I don't get into a discussion on free choice minerals, mineral blocks etc. that most of you seem to use because it's not worth the argument. Now that Allen has stated his view, I will come on board and agree with him 100%. If a farm, or a particular animal, has a real deficiency, free choice minerals or mineral blocks will be of little help. There seems to be a perception that animals "know" what they're deficient in - the reality is that they don't any more than you would recognise you have an iron deficiency - all you would know is that you were tired.

The only block I have is a salt block because much of our grass is kikuyu which does not take up sodium. For the rest of it I have bloods taken from a cross section of my cattle every 3 years or so to find out the status of my animals. They always come back as copper and selenium deficient, sometimes cobalt. Selenium is a world wide deficiency and is easily fixed. Copper deficiency - Molybdenum excess is more complex and can be tied up with iron. Because I keep sheep, putting copper in the fertilizer is not an option so twice a year all cattle are injected for selenium and copper. Prior to calving magnesium is given to the cows, usually in a powder form over their grain if they are milkers, spread over the paddock if they are beef.

Triple J, talk to your vet or extension office for the best plan of action for the area you live in as what applies in Texas need not necessarily apply in Michigan.

Cheers,
Ronnie
 
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