Monday, July 27, 2020

If minerals are team players, what about the playing field?

We often refer to minerals as team players and compare them to members of a sports team. I’d like to add another dimension to that analogy – the playing field.  The attributes and condition of the playing field can have a great influence on the ultimate performance of the team players.

Basketball players would not do well if the court floor was dirty and had missing or warped flooring. Outdoor sports were the same. I can remember the bygone era when sports events were played outdoors without benefit of the now almost universal domed stadiums.

Many baseball games were delayed or cancelled because of inclement weather.  Late season football games were seldom delayed by the weather, and many football games we played in the mud and sometimes even during a blizzard of snow.  What a mess!

Mineral feeding can also be affected by aberrations in the playing field.  If we can identify and alleviate some of the “playing field” problems we can enhance the performance of the mineral team.

Here are some examples — there may be others!

  • Poor quality feed will increase consumption of Vitamin A and Vitamin B
  • Gross excesses of any one mineral will affect the utilization of many other minerals. (Check out:  
  • Poor water quality.  High levels of nitrates in the water will increase the need for Vitamin A as will urea or NPN in the feeds.
  • Stress of any kind — stray voltage, social stress, heat, cold — will usually increase consumption of Vitamin B and Vitamin A.
To illustrate the range of possible ‘playing fields’, consider the overall environment of a holistically managed, grass-fed dairy farm compared to a conventional factory-farm mega-dairy.  

What is the playing field like for your animals, and what can you do to make it better?

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