Best Minerals For Cattle – Deficiency Signs & Importance

Do you take your livestock farmer duties seriously? Well, we appreciate you for taking your duty seriously.

The livestock keeper has to look after the mineral requirements as these animals can not take care of themselves.

Cattle are the most demanded farm animal that needs a noticeable amount of vitamins and minerals.

If the requirement is not fulfilled dairy and dry cattle both suffer from vitamin and mineral deficiency

Like humans and other animals, the said animal does go through some stages where the nutritional requirements get different.

They begin needing some minerals more than they “actually” do in normal life.

For example, in the lactation period, their requirements would be different, the cattle may need calcium and phosphorus in a noticeable amount as they have to produce milk.

If you want every function in the cattle’s body to keep working smoothly, make sure the vitamins and minerals are being supplied uninterruptedly.

Best Minerals For Cattle

Here are some minerals that cattle need for their health and wellness.

  • Calcium
  • Phosphorus
  • Magnesium
  • Potassium
  • Copper
  • Zinc
  • Iron


First of all, we would like to mention here that cattle is a broad term.

It is a term we use to refer to cows, bulls, oxen, and calves. Cows, bulls, oxen, and claves need calcium for different purposes.

Bull, oxen, and calves do require calcium for various reasons but the cows mainly need it to make milk and colostrum.

Whereas bulls, oxen(usually a catered male cattle), and calves do not have produce colostrum and milk, all these animals need it for the healthy nervous and muscular system’s smooth functioning.

Calcium deficiency is quite common in cattle, if calcium deficiency remains untreated it can cause osteomalacia.

Osteomalacia is a serious health condition that is characterized by weak and brittle bones.

Moreover, it can also cause milk fever or acute hypocalcemia. According to the International Journal of Paleopathology, the calcium in the blood falls and the poor animal began to experience muscular weakness, sternal recumbency, subnormal temperature, increased heart rate, and loss of consciousness.

So, to not let the cattle die of calcium deficiency and to fulfill the daily need, calcium supplements and calcium-rich feed is the absolute cattle’s absolute necessity.


Phosphorus is one of four important macromineral(calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, and potassium) that we all need in abundance to live a balanced life.

The same is the case with cows, bulls, oxen, and calves. Phosphorus works in conjunction with calcium so the rewarding minerals need to be fed in proper ratios.

Reckless feeding would result in decreased milk production, weaker bones, and several other health issues.

According to the University of Massachusetts, ”dry cattle need around 10 grams of phosphorus every day whereas lactating cows would require 30 grams every day to serve better.

Phosphorus is needed by cattle for all important functions; mainly building stronger bones, teeth, fur, and metabolizing fat, carbohydrates, and protein.

Dairy cows do not only need phosphorus for stronger bones, teeth, and for the metabolism of fat, carbohydrates, and protein, they require it for better digestion, normal milk production, and overall growth. Learn about Do cows drink milk?

The cattle can easily become phosphorus-deficient in late summers and fall as the forages around that time of the month do not contain an impressive amount of the said mineral.

The signs of phosphorus deficiency are more or less the same as overdose, the animal may experience low milk production, weight gain, poor reproductive efficiency, stiff joints, muscular weaknesses, stunning growth, weaker bones, poor food conversion, and poor milk quality.

Moreover, the phosphorus deficiency can also be judged by the cattle’s unusual behavior such as chewing wood, bones, and stones.

Typically, the phosphorus deficiency is treated by switching the feed with phosphorus-rich options.

In severe cases, the livestock farmers do add mineral supplements to their cattle’s diet.


Magnesium is an absolute necessity for grazing animals, especially sheep, beef, and dairy cattle. The said animal happens to suffer from grass tetany.

Grass tetany is a metabolic disease that is caused by magnesium deficiency, ruminants like sheep and cattle suffer from it the most.

The ruminants usually fulfill most of the magnesium requirements from forages and grasses, grasses with low magnesium content can easily make the cattle magnesium-deficient.

The signs of grass tetany or magnesium deficiency are pretty obvious; the animal would be noticed grazing away from the herd.

Moreover, the disease can also be judged by irritability, incoordination, nervousness, staring, muscle twitching, thrashing, staggering, collapse.

What’s more alarming is that there would be no clinical signs of magnesium deficiency. It’s one of the reasons why most cattle die of magnesium deficiency.

The magnesium requirements are quite minimal the bulls, oxen, and dry cows usually require 1.3 mg/Kg DM whereas, the lactating cow needs 2 g/kg DM.

The magnesium requirements remain manageable throughout the year except from mid-February to mid-April.

This is the time when the forages and grasses may fail to fulfill the daily magnesium need and since it can not be stored, the magnesium need must be taken seriously.

Fortunately, there are several ways to supplement the cattle; magnesium requirement can be fulfilled by adding it to water as a soluble salt, supplementing the cow with extra hay, silage, or straw, high magnesium nuts, and, offering High MG licks and magnesium bolus.

To prevent the animal from giving life to grass tetany and for the smooth functioning of several important functions in the cattle’s body, magnesium is a need in a noticeable amount every day.

It is mainly needed for bones and increased gut absorption, and smooth birthing process.


Potassium plays an important role to perform several tasks in a human and animal body. Animals and humans need it for different purposes.

It helps in maintaining water balance, osmotic pressure, acid-base balance, regulating neuromuscular activity, heartbeat, activating enzymes, and metabolizing carbohydrates and protein.

The cattle that are undergoing environmental, health, and production stress need a significant amount of potassium as the said animal loses a lot of potassium in this period.

Besides needing it in the time of stress, this macromineral is continuously needed in a balanced amount to impact carbohydrate metabolism, for protein synthesis, impressive milk production, stronger immune function, and the cattle’s well-being.

According to studies, pets and cattle require a balanced amount of potassium more than any other animal; the pets need it to prevent cardiovascular diseases whereas, the cattle may demand it to prevent metabolic disease grass tetany, milk fever, and udder edema.

Potassium deficiency is just as common as any other mineral deficiency, if potassium deficiency remains untreated it leads to sudden weight loss, reduced milk production, water, and feed intake.


Copper deficiency is an issue not only in the United States but in other countries of the world as well.

The copper deficient cattle have rough discolored hair coats, hoof issues, and reduced growth rate. Moreover, the cattle can also suffer from diarrhea and anemia as well.

Anemia is a medical condition in which the body does not produce enough hemoglobin to transport oxygen to the parts of the body.

It can be temporary or permanent severe or mild, whatever the condition is, anemia is still alarming. Diarrhea is another medical issue that appears less alarming but it can be deadly.

It’s a condition in which feces are quite frequently discharged in liquid form.

Copper deficiency can be caused by low copper levels in plants and ingestion of excessive levels of molybdenum and sulfur.

The copper deficiency can be treated easily by fertilizing the pasture with copper-rich fertilizer, increasing dietary copper, or by injecting copper supplements.

It often occurs in early spring or early winter and it affects the lactating and pregnant cattle the most.

Popper copper nutrition is needed for various important functions including a healthy immune system, reproduction, iron metabolism, connective tissue maintenance, maturation, hoof health, skin and hair pigmentation, antibodies, white cell development, enzyme production, and to respond to vaccinations well.


Zinc, an essential mineral, is every human and animal need as it is required for the enzymes system, protein synthesis, carbohydrates metabolism, and some other biochemical reactions.

Other than that, zinc and other minerals assist with immunity, fertility, osmotic pressure, and nervous system function.

The cattle mostly fulfill the zinc needs from corn and milo-based feed lots diet. It provides 19 to 21 ppm zinc that is enough to meet the cattle’s needs.

Zinc deficiency is less common in some parts of the world and a little more common in Arizona, Utah, Pacific Coast states, and Texas.

The cattle belonging to that areas are far more vulnerable than the cattle belonging to other areas and regions.

The situation in Wisconsin and Nebraska is super alarming as these areas happen to have abnormal zinc levels.

So the cattle being raised in these areas are vulnerable to zinc deficiency and toxicity. Inadequate availability of zinc can easily lead to zinc deficiency.

Zinc deficiency can be mild or severe, the severe deficiency can be judged by skin parakeratosis, general debility, reduced growth, feed intake, white patches of hair around the flanks, increased infection susceptibility, and lethargy.

The zinc deficiency can be treated either by feeding zinc-rich feed or zinc supplementation. As zinc toxicity is just as common as zinc deficiency let’s not ignore it.

The toxicity is treated through a process called chelation. It is a process that does not only help the animal get rid of excess zinc but copper and lead as well.


Last on our list is iron, the said mineral does not need any introduction.

Humans and animals more or less require it for the same reasons.

Iron’s primary function in the human and animal’s body is to make enough hemoglobin that oxygen can be transported to all parts of the body.

Iron together with the above-mentioned minerals helps in the sound functioning of all important functions; bone development, producing energy, muscle contraction, nervous and immune systems.

Surprisingly, iron deficiency is more common than any other vitamin or mineral shortage in animals and humans.

The deficiency leads to weight loss, depressed immunity, anemia, lack of appetite, exercise intolerance, and lethargy.

The iron deficiency can not be treated with iron-rich foods only, it can only be sorted by supplementation.

In the end, we would like to mention here that only important minerals are discussed. Like the human body, cattle require all minerals and vitamins to live a balanced life.


  • Hi, I am Talon Juper, a passionate farmer, and Livestock Expert. I have done my graduation in Agriculture and Animal breeding. Relevant to Farm Desire as a research writer and data recorder.

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