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2020 Beef Cattle Mineral Nutrition Program

BROOKINGS, S.D. - Extension professionals in South Dakota and North Dakota are offering an educational program focused on beef cattle mineral nutrition to assist producers in developing effective and cost-efficient mineral programs based on individual production situations.

Minerals are a small but critical component of beef cow diets. Providing the correct mineral supplement is necessary to ensure optimal health, performance, and reproduction. Costs of mineral supplementation vary widely, but most estimates are from $20 to $50 per cow per year. Due to the importance of minerals and the investment required, it is imperative for producers to develop a good understanding of mineral supplement options in order to choose the best products for an individual ranch. Beyond the importance of minerals, there are multiple interactions among minerals that can affect requirements and the ability of the animal to utilize certain minerals, complicating mineral nutrition. 

The upcoming extension program includes workshops, ranch visits, individual follow-up consultations and tools to help producers critically evaluate their mineral program and modify it when necessary.

This year, due to social distancing restrictions, content that would typically be presented at an initial face-to-face meeting in May will be split into four sessions that will be delivered via live webinar to participants.


  • May 19, 6:30 p.m. - 8 p.m. MDT/ 7:30 p.m. – 9 p.m. CDT. Diagnostics of mineral issues in North and South Dakota – Jeffery Hall, Utah State University, Licensed Veterinarian and Board Certified in Veterinary Toxicology
  • May 21, 6:30 p.m. - 8 p.m. MDT/ 7:30 p.m. – 9 p.m. CDT. Mineral program options and basic mineral nutrition – Janna Block, NDSU Extension Livestock Specialist
  • May 26, 6:30 p.m. - 8 p.m. MDT/ 7:30 p.m. – 9 p.m. CDT. Reading mineral tags and monitoring consumption – Adele Harty, SDSU Extension Cow/Calf Field Specialist
  • May 28, 6:30 p.m. - 8 p.m. MDT/ 7:30 p.m. – 9 p.m. CDT. How does animal grazing behavior impact mineral intake? – Ken Olson, SDSU Extension Beef Specialist 

One of the most important components of this program is collection and analysis of forage, water, and other feedstuffs for mineral content. Forage is one of the main mineral sources for the majority of beef cattle herds. However, few producers have utilized mineral analysis in grazed forage, harvested forages or other feedstusffs. Instructors will discuss proper sampling methods and assist producers in interpreting and utilizing the results when evaluating their mineral programs.

Tools will be provided to monitor mineral consumption throughout the summer to determine whether cattle are consuming mineral at the appropriate level. Presenters will provide tips and tricks to troubleshoot consumption challenges. During the summer, SDSU Extension and NDSU Extension personnel will schedule virtual ranch visits that focus on the specific needs of each producer while following appropriate social distancing protocols.

The final workshop session in the fall will include additional information about applied mineral nutrition, including suggestions for managing mineral consumption problems. The format of this workshop will be determined at a later date, but with either be live webinars or a face-to-face workshop.

Sponsors of the program are Micronutrients, a Nutreco Company and Ward Laboratories, Inc.

The registration fee for this program is $130 per operation. Participants in the program will receive one free forage analysis and one free water analysis, with all subsequent samples at a discounted rate for being part of the program. This discount is good for a 12-month period to allow for analysis of a year-round feeding program. Registration is available until May 18, 2020.

To register, go to the Extension Events page

For more information, contact Adele Harty, SDSU Extension Cow/Calf Field Specialist, or Janna Block, NDSU Extension Livestock Specialist, at 701-567-4323 or by email