What is a Mineral?

Christine Gelley, Agriculture and Natural Resources Educator, Noble County OSU Extension

Don’t miss this opportunity to learn about proper mineral supplementation.

A mineral is a naturally occurring, inorganic element or compound that has an orderly internal structure and characteristic chemical composition, crystal form, and physical properties. Sometimes minerals are described as rocks. But rocks are actually aggregates of one or many minerals bound together. Minerals primarily make their way into our diets through plants that draw them from the soil or through animals that ate those plants.

We all know that vitamins and minerals are important things to include in our diets so that our bodies function and are healthy. The same is true for our pets and livestock. Knowing how much is needed and how to supply them can be challenging to understand, especially when the answer is- “it depends”.

Mineral needs vary vastly due to many factors including where you live, what you eat, your life stage, and even your genetics! Fortunately, in the United States we have access to many food items that supply most of the nutrients, vitamins, and minerals that we need and if we need to supply a little more, we take a multi-vitamin that contains supplemental amounts of vitamins and minerals to complement what we consume in our diets.

Your livestock have less choice than you do on what food sources they can access to provide for their needs and as a result, it is important that we as managers provide it to them. There are different schools of thought out there on what is necessary and how it should be provided. I won’t address all of them in this article, but I will say that animals cannot access minerals that are not supplied to them. It is the livestock manager’s job to make those necessary minerals available. If you are taking care of any kind of livestock animal, it is important to have a basic understanding of what macro and micro minerals should be supplied and how it works best in your operation.

To help cattle producers with developing a mineral supplementation program, OSU Extension, Jones Feed, Kent Feeds, and Central Life Sciences will host a community meeting on the topic of Minerals for the Cow-Calf Herd from 6-8 p.m. on March 21, 2023 at the OSU Extension Operations Building (16714 St. Rt. 215, Caldwell). Livestock managers are invited to attend to learn more about how to meet the nutritional needs of your cow herd and how to promote herd health through preventative approaches. There is no cost to attend this program and dinner will be provided. RSVPs must be called in to the Extension Office no later than March 17. Call 740-732-5681 or email gelley.2@osu.edu to RSVP.

We hope to see you there!