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What does it cost you for your minerals?

Dairy Pipeline: January 1999

Charles C. Stallings
Extension Dairy Scientist, Nutrition
Virginia Tech
(540) 231-4758

What does it cost you for your minerals? The cost of supplementing minerals and vitamins can vary from farm to farm. In addition we many times have the cost of buffers and other additives added on top of the standard sources of macro-minerals, micro-minerals, and vitamins. Depending on the basic feeds in the ration we usually need to supplement the macro-minerals; calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, sodium, and sulfur; when feeding lactating cows. Also the micro-minerals; iron, cobalt, zinc, copper, manganese, and selenium; are many times added to rations via premixes and special formulations. Vitamins A, D, and E are usually supplemented but modifications can be made when supplementing pasture and when cows are outside during warmer times of the year. Less vitamin D and E would be needed in the supplement during these periods. The basic sources of the macro-minerals (without sodium or salt) would normally cost $.20 to .30/cow/day and be the largest cost of mineral supplementation. Adding salt adds $.02 to .04/cow/day. Micro-minerals add $.03 to .07/cow/day and vitamins add another $.02 to .04. Therefore, mineral supplementation cost should range from $.27 to .43/cow/day. Adding a buffer such as sodium bicarbonate should add another $.06 to .08. Buffers are not added as mineral sources and are added to improve digestion and stabilize the rumen. Generally, mineral and vitamin supplementation should not be more than 10% of the total ration cost. If paying more than this evaluate rates of supplementation and cost per unit of your mineral and vitamin sources. Are they commonly accepted sources and are they priced in a reasonable manner? Some attention to detail might reduce your feed bill. --

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