As winter is quickly approaching it is vital to ensure that your animals remain healthy and productive by leaving out salt blocks, bags of minerals or lick tubs. Mineral and salt are an essential part of livestock’s diets.
Jackie Nix, an Animal Nutritionist at Sweetlix, a nutrional supplement manufacturer, wrote that while minerals and vitamins are a very small part of livestock nutrition, it is an extremely important part. Nix explained, “Minerals and vitamins play vital roles in reproduction, immunity and growth, and inadequate intake of any of the essential minerals and vitamins results in reduced feed intake, decreased average daily gains, inefficient feed conversion, decreased reproductive performance and poor immunity.”
Susan Kerr, Washington State University–Klickitat County Extension Director wrote, “Livestock’s maintenance nutritional requirements can increase significantly during cold weather, and requirements increase dramatically if animals become wet and/or there is appreciable wind.” Therefore, it is important to supplement your animals with the minerals and salts they require during those colder winter months, in order to keep your livestock healthy and productive. Kerr wrote in her article, “Winter Livestock Management” for Oregon State University Extension Service, that the lowest critical environmental temperatures (LCT) for livestock vary according to species and researchers, but she explained that typically, 20° or 32° F are often used as the lowest temperature dry livestock can tolerate without additional energy demands to support normal body temperature. Supplementing the livestock with minerals and salts in the winter will ensure that livestock are able to meet the energy demands that the winter requires of them.
Salt is made up of Sodium Chloride which promotes water intake and will help improve milk production and overall herd health, according to Marcy Ward, Ph.D candidate for North Dakota State University (NDSU) Department of Animal and Range Sciences, and Greg Lardy, Beef Specialist of NDSU Extension, in their article, “Beef Cattle Mineral Nutrition.” They wrote that on average, cattle should consume 11 to 15 grams of salt per day to meet nutritional requirements. If producers are using salt-supplements, however, they need to be using around three to four ounces per head per day.
While it is important to monitor your livestock’s intake of mineral and salt, Kerr advised producers to keep trace mineralized salt available at all times. In the winter keeping mineral and salt out may not be too difficult. However, protecting it from the elements may be quite the task. Keeping it in a dry place, as well as covering it in a way that the animals can get to it, are possible solutions to ensuring that it doesn’t wash away.
Kerr concluded that addressing the special nutritional, environmental and health needs of livestock in the winter will help ensure optimal animal welfare and performance. She explained, preventing problems is more economical than is treating them, so in this era of challenging farm profitability, the concept of prevention will never grow cold.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here