MINERALS. MINERALS. MINERALS.
MINERALS EVERYDAY, KEEP THE DOCTOR AWAY!
MOST HEALTH PROBLEMS OF LIVESTOCK ARE DUE TO MINERAL DEFICIENCIES.
Internal and external parasites, scouring, infectious diseases, feet problems, skin issues, eye diseases, mastitis, milk production – to just name a few. Plus a whole lot of behavioural problems like fighting, nervousness and ease in handling. And then of course – fertility – in boys and girls – simultaneous uptake in a herd, successful pregnancies and survival rate of offspring and – my favourite- birth ease.
85% of those problems in farm animals disappear or become remarkably less once animals have optimal mineral levels.
The million-dollar question just is: How do we get there?
Ideally, grazing animals take up their entire nutrient requirement with their pasture, as those nutrients are 100% bioavailable.
This means: readily digested, absorbed and utilised whenever and wherever in the body the nutrients are needed. In a perfect world, we have such a wide range of plant diversity on our paddocks that each animal can pick what it needs on the day and drives its own nutritional program.
Soil improvement, which is our goal in Regenerative Land Management, will get us there. Still, in the meantime, we can do the second best thing and provide all minerals needed in a free ad-lib form so that each animal can self-medicate its individual needs.
This is surprisingly simple and economical and even has a bonus in store for us.
Achieving mineral balance is notoriously finicky because minerals have complex interactions with each other.
A SIMPLE EXAMPLE, AN EXCESS OF MAGNESIUM CAUSES A DEPLETION OF CALCIUM AND VICE VERSA.
The ideal ratio is close to 1:2, one part of Magnesium to two parts of Calcium. How do we know, which Magnesium/Calcium ratio each animal needs to achieve optimal levels?
Blood tests are expensive. Often only a selection of animals gets tested, and assumptions are made for the rest of the group. Mineralisation levels within a herd, however, can vary greatly, as they are dependent on so many factors like age, stress-levels, pregnancy etc.
However, Nature has got it covered – yet again – and has a solution for us – yet again.
Animals know exactly what they are lacking. Has anyone ever observed that stock loves grazing right underneath a fence line? Fencing wire is coated with Zinc which gets washed by rain into the ground underneath – a great treat for any Zinc deficient animal – and most of them are.
If minerals are provided in their original form and are not disguised by tastes or scents, animals instinctively take up what they need until they reach saturation point. Pat Coleby was the first who wrote about this in her books *.
Ideally we offer feed-grade Dolomite, Lime, Seaweed (Kelp) granules, Copper Sulphate, Sulphur, Diatomaceous Earth and Rocksalt.
The minerals need to be kept in individual containers and protected from the rain. There are various ways to achieve that, depending on the animals, infrastructure and what is available on the farm.
Once the basic mix is accepted, Garlic, Apple Cider Vinegar and Cod Liver Oil can be added. Due to the strong smells they are best introduced one by one.
Above scenario is ideal and produces the best results. However, if individual ad-lib is not feasible, you can make your own premix. Pat Coleby’s recipe is 50 parts of Dolomite to 8 parts of Copper Sulphate, Sulphur and Seaweed each.
Commercially premixed minerals often contain fillers and blocks are often based on either salt or molasses. Animals will then go by taste, which bypasses their instinct, the very component we rely on to make the self-uptake work.
Mums-to-be require extra Potassium, and Apple Cider Vinegar is a fantastic source for it. Not much is needed, about two cups worth a week for a springing cow, added to the water trough. The additional Potassium makes the bones more flexible and supports the birthing process. Apple Cider Vinegar added to the water is a great idea any time of year for any livestock. They all love it and will soon start to chase you when they smell the vinegar bottle.
Initially, animals might take up quite large amounts of the minerals they lack the most. Don’t worry, it will stop eventually, but it is a sign that they have quite low levels to begin with. I once had an Arab mare, who tucked into Copper Sulphate like it was lollies. She had a blue mouth for several days. I was very worried as Copper Sulphate is toxic in high doses. Yet – I trusted that she would stop eventually and she did – and she finally stopped eating wood – in horses a symptom for copper deficiency.
Once animals have proper mineral levels, they look a million dollars. Their eyes are bright and they are alert and lively, the coats are clean and shiny. As healthy skin is slightly oily, no dirt will stick and pooey bums are a thing of the past.
Then there is that bonus – animals lack the same minerals as the soils on which they live. They take up more minerals than they can absorb, so the rest gets eliminated precisely to where it is needed, straight back onto the soils –
Regenerative Farming at its best!
Contact me if you would like to know how to manage minerals on your property. I am looking forward to talking to you soon.
*Books by Pat Coleby:
Natural Farming, Natural Goat Care, Natural Sheep Care
Natural Cattle Care, Natural Horse Care, Natural Pet Care