When it comes to feed limiters, Gary Naylor, University of Missouri Extension livestock specialist, claimed, “Salt is the best limiter that we have; it’s the mainstay and it’s reasonably priced.” If it’s less feed intake producers want in their herd, salt is a good option, he said.
The advantages to this type of feeding, however, are skewed towards what Naylor called a “convenience feed.” In other words, using salt as a limiter is economical for the farmer who can’t get out and check his cattle everyday; it limits his actual labor time by not having to hand-feed consistently.
Though some believe that an increased salt intake could harm cattle, Naylor refuted this point. “Cattle will not eat too much salt. An overdose is only possible when access to cold, clean water is prevented,” he said. In this statement lies an inherent disadvantage to increased salt intake; an abundance of cold water is necessary for the cattle to excrete the salt in their urine, which could be more of a problem in the winter. This is because more factors exist in the winter that could potentially restrict water intake, such as a pond freezing.
A farmer who wishes to use salt to reduce their cattle’s feed intake should simply be aware of the potential dangers, and make sure that the water supply is adequate, if not abundant. This is especially essential when a farmer is planning to only check the cattle periodically.
As far as advantages to this type of practice, Naylor also said, “Some believe that having the salt mix out allows a timid animal to go up and eat when there aren’t any other cattle there. By offering the salt mix 24/7, it could override the pecking order that exists when hand-feeding.”
If you are considering using salt to limit feed intake, Naylor describes approximate measurements for doing so.

Naylor’s “Rule of Thumb”
Offer .1% of body weight in salt:
-500 lb. calf will eat 1/2 lb.
-1,000 lb cow will eat 1 lb.

Naylor said he was skeptical about this type of system’s relevance for the farmer who is able to check his cattle everyday. These reservations stem from his belief that keeping an eye on your cattle is still the best way to maintain a healthy herd, though it may require a little more time and effort. Naylor also said he cannot convince himself that buying something that doesn’t provide any nutrition is worthwhile.  “I’m not a fond believer in making (cattle) eat something they don’t need. Even though salt is cheap, it does cost some money and they have to drink a lot of water just to get rid of the excess,” he said. When asked whether he was on board with using salt as a limiter, Naylor continued, “If you have the time, hand-feeding grain is still the best and most economical way to feed and manage your cattle.”


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