Measuring Nutrients Key To Good Cow Health

Few would argue that nutrition is key when raising livestock, yet many cow/calf operators fail to address this adequately, leaving their cows and calves with deficiencies, said Dr. John Pollreisz, managing veterinarian for Zoetis.

Zoetis’ web site said it is a global animal health company, delivering medicines, vaccines and diagnostic products, along with biodevices, genetic tests and precision livestock farming.

Pollreisz said in an interview that the company is involved actively in research and development, along with ongoing support and field trials.  The aim is to get the best results for producers from their products.

Zoetis conducts ongoing field research to demonstrate results from its products and expertise, he said.  In this way, producers can tailor their management practices to get the best results.




The results will vary, depending on a producer’s management and the nutrition provided to the cows, Pollreisz said.  But nutrition is the key, and many producers miss getting the best results from their cow herd because they don’t verify the little things.

They put cows on pasture or range land and fail to test the grass to see what nutrients are there or lacking, he said.  Year after year, the cows do OK, but without adequate testing, they can’t be sure they’re getting the most from their cows.

The most common mistake cow/calf producers make with their herds is getting enough protein to their mommas, Pollreisz said.  Pasture protein content and the necessary compensation for what is lacking will vary by the type of forage available and the production cycle of the grass and the cows.

The next most common mistake is failing to address micronutrients in the diets of their cows, he said.  Micronutrients include microminerals like copper, selenium, zinc and certain vitamins like vitamin E, he said, but the National Library of Medicine also listed things like cobalt, chromium and vitamin A, to name a few.

The Library of Medicine also said the micronutrients play important roles in growth, immune function, bone health, fluid balance and other bodily processes.  Some problems with micronutrient deficiencies are harder to detect and may lead to broader economic losses.

“Dietary mineral concentrations often considered adequate for maximum growth, reproductive performance, or optimal immune function have been found to be insufficient at times of physiological stress (weaning, transport, comingling, etc.), when feed intake is reduced,” said Bill Kunkle in a study on the Library’s web site.  “The impacts of these deficiencies on beef cattle health are not apparent until calves have been subjected to these stressors.”

Pollreisz said they also help in a cow’s ability to develop immunity to disease and to recover from disease.

He encouraged cow/calf producers to seek input from their nutritionist.  Have forage and animal sampling programs in place to assess cattle progress – including a liver biopsy.




Fed cattle sold this week in eastern Nebraska at $152 to $155 per cwt on a dressed basis, down $5 to $12 from the full range of last week’s prices.  Live-basis sales were seen at $97.00 per cwt, down $2 to $8.

The USDA choice cutout Tuesday was down $2.25 per cwt at $211.81, while select was off $0.73 at $203.57.  The choice/select spread narrowed to $8.24 from $9.76 with 136 loads of fabricated product sold into the spot market.

Two heifer and four steer contracts were tendered for delivery Tuesday against the Jun live cattle futures contract at zero.  All were demanded.

The CME Feeder Cattle index for the seven days ended Monday was $128.71 per cwt, down $0.41.  This compares with Tuesday’s Aug contract settlement of $133.20, up $1.45.




–It’s kind of like the pot calling the kettle black.  Reuters reported that China has asked food exporters for signed declarations that food is free of virus contamination.  The COVID-19 virus started in China, and now they want assurances that products sent to them do not contain the virus.

–At current price levels, very little hedging is being done in live cattle futures.  And, without hedging, speculators can move the market willy-nilly.  This appears to have been what happened Monday and Tuesday.

–It looks like retail demand ahead of the Independence Day holiday is being filled.  Ribs and loins are declining as buying interest for these higher-priced cuts declines.  And after July 4, demand for grillable items except hamburger declines into the dog days of summer.  Further, with so many people out of work, it will be hard for rib roasts and steaks to hold their own.

–It may get harder to export beef and pork into China as they report having excess volumes of chicken and eggs, and pork slaughter is picking up around the world.