Farm animals need minerals to maintain health, produce meat and milk, and for reproduction. Major minerals are needed in large quantities by the body. Trace minerals are minerals needed in small amounts for proper body functioning.
There are seven major minerals required by the body: calcium, phosphorus, sodium, magnesium, potassium, sulfur and chloride. Major minerals form the bone structure, build proteins and balance body water.
The trace minerals are needed for many functions, such as enzyme formation, immune system functioning and reproduction. Trace minerals are iron, iodine, manganese, copper, cobalt, zinc, selenium and fluoride.
How They Are Obtained
Forage and grain should provide the majority of the minerals needed by farm animals. Mineral and salt blocks are also provided to make up for deficiencies in the forage and grain.
Deficiencies of major or trace minerals can cause many problems. The soil in some areas may also be deficient in certain minerals leading to forages deficient in some minerals.
An excess in any mineral can also harm an animal. Sheep are especially sensitive to copper and can store this mineral in the liver. Over time, this can damage the liver and lead to death.
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