Proper care for your cow should start early to ensure you grow a healthy cow that provides a lot of meat and healthy calves. It takes more than food to provide all the proper nutrients to your calf, though. You may need to use supplements to get all the proper minerals in your calf's diet.
Building Robust Calves
There are certain nutrients essential to building a solid calf that will grow into a healthy cow. Calcium is one of these nutrients. Calcium builds a healthy bone structure in the calf that allows it to carry a robust figure. Phosphorous helps calcium build and maintain strong bones as well. Cobalt helps a calf synthesize vitamin B12. Without the ability to use vitamin B12, a calf will lose muscle mass and have a diminished appetite, making it appear to wither away.
Minerals for Illness
Without the proper minerals, calves can fall victim to many illnesses. For example, manganese prevents a condition referred to as crooked calf syndrome. Crooked calf syndrome can result in weak legs and swelling. Copper prevents a calf from falling ill with anemia, which can lead to problems that are more serious later. Magnesium staves off problems such as convulsions, heavy urination and strange behavior. Selenium prevents the occurrence of white muscle disease, which causes the muscles of a calf to wither. Iodine prevents an engorged thyroid.
Regulating Body Functions
Water retention is important for calves to grow healthy and sodium helps with the retention. Potassium promotes health all through the organ systems, providing benefits to almost every organ individually to help them function properly. Iron helps promote a healthy cardiovascular system so oxygen feeds into the muscles effectively. This allows the calf to stay active, retain energy and build healthy muscle mass. Zinc promotes a healthy, regular metabolism, which keeps your calf's weight stable.
Different conditions may require you to alter the doses of minerals in your calf's diet to maintain its health. Speak with your bovine vet to determine the best portions of food for your calf if you notice it is still having trouble after including all the supplements in the calf's diet. Don't throw too many minerals into the diet, either. For example, too much calcium or phosphorous can deplete the manganese stores in the calf, so it's important to get the right balance of minerals to foster healthy growth.
- Bovine Engineering & Consulting; Minerals are Essential for Healthy Livestock; Geardy Fry
- University of Kentucky; Feeding and Managing Baby Calves from Birth to 3 Months of Age; Donna Amaral-Phillips, et al.; August 2006
- North Dakota State University; Beef Cattle Mineral Nutrition; Marcy Ward, Ph.D. candidate, et al.; June 2005
- University of Missouri; Mineral Supplements for Beef Cattle; Chad Hale, et al.; February 2001
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