- Animals: bovine
- Animal Production: mineral supplements
Mineral supplementation is an important livestock management strategy to maintain and improve animal performance (growth, reproduction, health). Supplementation of minerals is necessary in many regions of the United States to correct for deficiencies in one or more mineral nutrients in forages consumed by livestock. Today many livestock producers use a commercial complete pre-mixed mineral product for their supplementation programs. Many times these commercial products are designed through generalizations of animal requirements without consideration for factors that determine the mineral composition of forages grazed by livestock in different geographical locations. The concentration of all minerals in forage depend largely on four factors: forage type; soil environment; climate; and stage of forage maturity. Geographical variations in climate, forage type, and soil environment limit the utility and effectiveness of generalized complete pre-mixed minerals. Hawaii livestock producers have struggled for over three decades with mineral supplementation issues. Commercial pre-mixed mineral products, used by most ranches in the State, are inadequate at meeting the different mineral needs of Hawaii’s ranches, especially where those companies have failed to adjust for the highly variable nature of Hawaii’s forage environments that change dramatically over short distances. Thus, mineral deficiencies remain a problem and stem from imbalances and interactions between calcium, phosphorous, and magnesium, and copper, iron, molybdenum, and sulfur. While the relative expression of these imbalances varies widely across the State, in general, they have led to an industry-wide depressed calving percentage, increased incidence of disease and other health issues, and reduced animal longevity. Individual animal thrift and calf weight gains are often compromised by these mineral deficiencies. The concept of individual free-choice mineral supplementation has been around since the 1950s, though it has not been widely adopted as commercial feed companies have focused on complete pre-mixed mineral products. The few practitioners of individual free-choice mineral supplementation have long touted its benefits, including increased animal performance and a decrease in overall cost of supplementation. In short, they suggest it is more efficient and economical to feed individual minerals free-choice than a commercial pre-mix mineral ration. The purpose of this project is to investigate the feasibility of individual free-choice mineral supplementation in Hawaii and to develop a decision support tool to assist livestock producers in developing a mineral supplementation program specific to their operation. Two separate trials will be conducted. The first trial will investigate the relative palatability of various mineral components when offered free choice compared to a commercial pre-mix mineral ration on five separate ranch herds on two separate islands. The second trial will evaluate the performance of different paired herds offered either an individual free-choice mineral supplement or a commercial pre-mix mineral ration on three separate ranches on the two major beef producing islands. In each trial we will monitor total individual and pre-mix mineral consumption, animal performance and evaluate forage quality and soil fertility of pastures grazed during the trials. Each trial will be carried out for 12 months in order to capture the variability in forage quality over seasons and different stages of growth and to quantify mineral consumption across the cow’s production cycle. The data will be compiled and evaluated using risk-adjusted partial budget analysis. The results will help managers better understand the economic benefit of proper mineral supplementation, as well as how that benefit may fluctuate given variable animal performance, forage productivity, soil fertility, livestock markets, and input costs. In addition, a stand-alone decision support tool will be developed to assist producers in making informed decisions regarding their mineral supplementation program after providing values for individual ranch resources. The educational program will begin in year one with three workshops (one per island of Hawaii, Maui, and Kauai) to teach producers about the importance of mineral supplementation, common deficiencies and interactions between minerals, and introduce the concept of an individual free-choice mineral program. The goal for this first workshop will be to motivate producers to take steps to evaluate their current mineral program and make changes if necessary. In year two a second workshop series (one per island of Hawaii, Maui, and Kauai) will be conducted presenting results from the first year trials. In this workshop we will evaluate participants’ current mineral programs, make recommendations, and assess willingness to adopt new strategies for feeding minerals including utilizing an individual free-choice mineral program. Between years two and three we will develop and offer three webinars with various topics around mineral supplementation, grazing management, and local marketing options. A third workshop series will be provided in year three to present the final results of the mineral feeding trials and introduce and teach the use of the mineral supplementation decision support tool. In addition to the workshops, the project will generate Extension publications on mineral supplementation and the use of the decision support tool. It is expected that results of this project will be published in peer reviewed journals such as the Journal of Animal Science, Livestock Science, and Journal of Applied Animal Nutrition. The results of this project will also be presented at professional and local cattlemen’s meetings. Relevance to Agricultural Sustainability This project directly supports Western SARE goals to promote good stewardship of resources, enhance the quality of life for ranchers, and examining regional economic, social and environmental implications of adopting sustainable agricultural practices. The nutritional quality of a grazing animal’s diet is central to maintain its health and fecundity. A balanced diet for livestock will contain an adequate supply and ratio of six macro-minerals (Calcium, Magnesium, Phosphorus, Potassium, Sodium, and Sulfur) and 10 micro-minerals (Chromium, Cobalt, Copper, Iodine, Iron, Manganese, Molybdenum, Nickel, Selenium, and Zinc). All forages exhibit deficiencies and/or imbalances in these minerals to some degree and at varying times that affect the nutritional quality of the grazing animal’s diet. Poor mineral nutrition results in poor herd health, performance, and fecundity which in turn reduces the overall profitability of the ranch. Additionally, poor forage quality puts additional pressure on pasture resources as animals search to satisfy nutritional deficiencies. Thus, a well-designed mineral supplementation program is essential to overcome periods when the forages may not provide the right quantity and ratio of minerals. Indeed, a mineral supplementation program should be designed to provide adequate minerals as they are needed according to animal demand and changes in forage quality over the growing season. This is particularly difficult to achieve using a commercial mineral ration as it cannot be adjusted to match the seasonal changes in forage quality and demand along the animal’s production cycle. Consequently, feeding commercial mineral rations lead to costly inefficiencies. For example, the mineral mix may be available, but inadequate to meet deficiencies in the animal’s diet resulting in a primary deficiency. At other times, overconsumption of certain minerals can occur when the forages provide adequate amounts but animals are consuming the mineral mix for the salt. Some minerals consumed in excess can act as an antagonist to other minerals (i.e. phosphorus is antagonistic to calcium absorption) causing a secondary mineral deficiency. Some minerals consumed in excess are toxic and cause complications as the animal’s body works to detoxify and excrete the excess minerals. Unused mineral is eventually excreted from the animal where it can variably be tied up in the soil or flushed into waterways in runoff. For these reasons we believe that individual free-choice mineral supplementation can be used to help reduce the substantial costs and inefficiencies incurred by ranchers using commercial mineral. This project will evaluate the feasibility of individual free-choice mineral supplementation in Hawaii through two separate trials. Using the data compiled from the two trials the project will result in a risk-adjusted partial budget analysis that will help producers understand the economic benefit of proper mineral supplementation, as well as how that benefit may fluctuate given variable animal performance, forage productivity, soil fertility, livestock markets, and input costs. In addition, the project will develop a decision support tool to assist producers in making informed decisions regarding their mineral supplementation program after providing values for individual ranch resources. The educational program carried out over the three years of the project will first introduce the concepts of mineral supplementation and encourage producers to evaluate their mineral programs. Subsequent educational programs will provide producers with continued support and encourage adoption of improved mineral supplementation programs designed specifically for their operations utilizing the partial-budget analysis results and the decision support tool. Through these tools and educational programs livestock producers in Hawaii will become better stewards of their land and livestock and with improved herd health and fecundity, be more profitable. Ultimately, management decisions, like mineral supplementation, that reduce costs while simultaneously resulting in more productivity, increases the resiliency of livestock producers and enhances their quality of life.
Project objectives from proposal:
- Conduct two trials on five ranches across the State (three ranches Hawaii County, two ranches Maui County) over the first two years of the project (one trial each of year one and two) to: a) quantify the relative palatability of various mineral components when offered free choice compared to a commercial pre-mix mineral ration (Trial 1, June 2016 – June 2017); and b) evaluate the performance of different herds offered either an individual free-choice minerals or a commercial pre-mix mineral ration (Trial 2, June 2017 – June 2018).
- Develop a database of seasonal forage quality and mineral composition profiles for rangelands in Hawaii using the forage mineral composition data (June 2018 – June 2019).
- Conduct a risk-adjusted partial budget analysis of mineral supplementation alternatives and develop a computer-based mineral supplementation decision support tool (June 2018 – June 2019).
Trial 1: This trial will be a replicated palatability trial comparing the relative palatability and consumption of a commercial complete pre-mixed mineral ration to individual free-choice minerals. The commercial mineral that will be used has been formulated for Hawaii and will provide a complete ration of macro- and micro-minerals at a recommended consumption of two oz./cow/day. The individual free-choice mineral program has been developed through consultation with a local rancher and project cooperator (FR Cattle Co.). The individual free-choice minerals will be comprised of monosodium phosphate to supply phosphorous, magnesium sulfate as a source of magnesium, copper sulfate to provide copper, and fish bone meal as a source of calcium. Sodium and sulfur will also be adequately met using these minerals. Potassium is rarely a concern in Hawaii because of our year round forage production. All of these minerals are readily available in Hawaii through several chemical and fertilizer companies in the islands. A trace mineral salt block (TM salt) will round out the individual free-choice program and supply all other micro-nutrients and additional sodium. The free-choice minerals and the TM salt will be provide in equal proportion to amounts supplied in the commercial mineral at the recommended rate.
The trial will be replicated across five separate cow/calf herds, three in Hawaii County, and two in Maui County. Each herd will be provided both the commercial and the individual free-choice minerals. Both the commercial mineral and the various components of the individual free-choice minerals will be placed in independent covered mineral boxes. Cooperating producers will maintain logs of the date and amount of mineral supplemented over the course of trial (year one, June 2016 - June 2017). Three replicate forage samples will be collected monthly (12 months) from pastures where trial herds (five) are grazing and analyzed for quality and mineral composition (180 total samples). Herd performance data will be collected at relevant intervals and will include conception rates, calving season interval, calving rates, calving and weaning weights, Average Daily Gain (ADG) of calves, disease/illness rates, and deaths. Herd total annual and monthly consumption, and daily consumption per animal will be quantified for both the commercial and individual free-choice minerals to compare relative palatability, and detect differences in preferences between minerals with changing forage quality and animal production cycle. Multivariate Analysis of Variance (MANOVA) will be used to determine if observed differences in relative consumption of the commercial and individual free-choice minerals are consistent between herds, changes in forage quality, and among herd performance data.
Trial 2: This trial will be a 2x3 factorial design utilizing paired cow/calf herds from three ranches supplemented with either a commercial mineral or individual free-choice minerals previously described at the recommended rate of 2 oz./cow/day. The paired herds within each ranch will be pastured in similar forage environments and will be managed (pasture rotations, breeding, calving, weaning, etc.) similarly. Cooperating producers will maintain logs recording dates and amounts of each mineral product supplemented over the course of the trial (June 2017 – June 2018). For each herd (six) total mineral consumed, monthly consumption, and daily consumption per cow will be determined. Three replicate forage samples will be collected monthly (12) in pastures where herds (6) are grazing and analyzed for forage quality and mineral composition (216 total samples). Data on herd performance variables will be collected at relevant intervals and will include conception rates, calving season interval, calving rates, calving and weaning weights, ADG of calves, disease/illness rates, and deaths. Covariate Analysis of Variance will be used to detect differences in herd performance variables between commercial mineral supplemented herds and individual free-choice mineral herds for annual and monthly herd consumption rates, and daily consumption per cow. Forage quality will be considered a covariate of mineral consumption.
For both trials the total cost of mineral supplementation will be quantified for both the commercial pre-mix and individual free-choice mineral and will include ranch labor costs, fuel/mileage expenses, delivery/shipping costs, and purchase costs of minerals. These data will be utilized in the risk-adjusted partial budget analysis and development of a mineral supplementation decision support tool and to inform producers in the educational programs along with results of the trials.
The project team members Thorne, Fukumoto, Stevenson and cooperating producers, Friel, Rice, Petrie, Cypriano, and Gomes are responsible for the conduct of these two trials.
We will develop a database of seasonal forage quality and mineral composition profiles for rangelands in Hawaii utilizing the data from the forage samples collected during the two trials carried out over the first two years of the project. The forage sample data will be analyzed using the PI’s Beef Cattle Nutrient Requirement Calculator to assess and detect energy, protein, and mineral deficiencies of different forages across months within years for different beef cattle production segments such as cow/calf, heifer development, stocker cattle, and grass-finish cattle. The results of these analyses will be compiled and used to inform producers during educational workshops, reported in extension publications and the Hawaii Rangelands Website (http://globalrangelands.org/hawaii/). Project PI is responsible for this objective.
Work on this objective will be coordinated by the lead PI, Thorne, in collaboration with John Hewlett and Jay Parsons of RightRisk through a subcontract. Utilizing data from the two trials the RightRisk team will conduct a risk-adjusted partial budget analysis of mineral supplementation alternatives using their Risk Scenario Planning (RSP) tool. The RSP tool provides a template for the decision-maker to enter the financial effects of making proposed change(s) to their operation. In addition, it offers the ability for the decision-maker to further refine estimates for some input values as uncertain numbers. This produces a more robust analysis of the proposed change and a more thorough understanding of the possible outcomes if the change is implemented. The RSP tool will allow users to analyze the expected profitability of a proposed management change using a partial budget approach, while including the uncertainty that the manager anticipates with future changes.
The RSP tool will be used to help workshop participants better understand the benefits of adopting an improved mineral ration by providing an economic description of the benefits and costs associated. In addition, the RSP tool will allow users to adjust base assumptions to better tailor results to their own situation and in this way encourages “what-if” scenario exploration. Finally, and most importantly, the RSP tool facilitates risk-adjusted partial budget analysis through the use of user forecasts of variations in benefits and costs associated with adjusting the mineral ration. The results of RSP analysis will help managers better understand the economic benefit of proper mineral supplementation, as well as how that benefit may fluctuate given variable animal performance, forage productivity, soil fertility, livestock markets, and input costs.
Once final mineral trial results are in hand, a stand-alone, purpose-built decision support tool will be developed to assist producers in making informed decisions regarding their specific mineral supplementation program after providing values for individual ranch resources. The decision support tool will be built using core technologies from the field-test RSP tool but will be further refined allowing for location-specific results and a simplified input approach to further encourage producer adoption.
Producer and Ag Professional Educational Activities
The educational program will begin in year one with three workshops (one per island of Hawaii, Maui, and Kauai) to form a common baseline of understanding among producers about the importance of mineral supplementation, common deficiencies and interactions between minerals, and introduce the concept of an individual free-choice mineral program. Participants will be introduced to the RightRisk RSP tool and will be led in an analysis of their mineral supplementation program against various alternatives. The workshop will also include field visits to cooperating producer operations to view and discuss the trials and cooperating producer experiences. The goal for this first workshop will be to motivate producers to take steps to evaluate their current mineral program and make appropriate changes.
In year two a second workshop series (one per island of Hawaii, Maui, and Kauai) will be conducted presenting results from the first year trials. In this workshop we will evaluate participants’ current mineral programs, make recommendations, and assess willingness to adopt new strategies for feeding minerals including utilizing an individual free-choice mineral program. Participants will have further exposure to the RightRisk RSP tool utilizing data from the first year trial to assess alternative mineral supplementation programs against their current program. Field visits to cooperating producer operations will allow participants to observe and discuss experiences and observations during the first year trials with project team and cooperating producers. The goal of the second workshop will be to facilitate and support adoption of better mineral supplementation programs. Between years two and three workshops we will develop and offer three 1-hour webinars with various topics focused around mineral supplementation, cow/calf production cycles, grazing management, and local marketing options. Each webinar will feature local, cooperating producers discussing their experiences with mineral supplementation and herd performance; Extension Specialist/agents to discuss the mineral supplementation decisions across the cow/calf production cycle and pasture conditions; and RightRisk cooperators to discuss economic and risk management aspects of mineral supplementation programs. The goal of these webinars to engage and encourage participants to make sound economic decisions in mineral supplementation for their herds.
A third workshop series (one per island of Hawaii, Maui, and Kauai) will be provided in year three. This workshop series will present the final results of the mineral feeding trials, introduce and teach the use of the mineral supplementation decision support tool, introduce participants to the use of the Seasonal Forage Quality and Mineral Composition Profile Database, and allow participants to work with the RightRisk RSP tool to analyze different mineral supplement decisions using the complete set of data. Participants will also visit cooperative producer operations to observe and discuss observations and experiences with project team members and cooperative producers. The goal of this final workshop series is to provide further support and decision tools to participants who have made mineral supplementation changes, and additional information and knowledge for those who have not yet made adjustments (if needed). In this final workshop participants who have made changes will have the opportunity to evaluate the efficacy of those changes against their old mineral programs.
Each workshop will feature discussion and presentations from University of Hawaii-Manoa Extension Specialists and agents, cooperating producers, and RightRisk cooperators. For each workshop the project team will develop appropriate learning materials and handouts for participants (presentation with handouts, worksheets, and additional reading materials). These materials will also be uploaded to the University of Hawaii-Manoa Hawaii Rangelands website (http://globalrangelands.org/hawaii/) for public access.
Participants in each workshop will be polled pre- and post-program for knowledge and views on mineral supplementation. In addition, the post-program evaluation will question participant’s level of commitment to adopt new knowledge and practices, potential roadblocks to adoption, and assessment of program materials, presentations, and presenters.
The results of the trials will be presented to state level professionals through Extension publications, website, and industry meetings. Additionally, the results of this project will be presented at national professional meetings (Society for Range Management and Animal Science meetings) and presented in peer-reviewed professional publications.
Scholarly publications and educational Materials
Specific scientific, peer-reviewed journals that will be considered for publication will include the Journal of Animal Science, Livestock Science, and Journal of Applied Animal Nutrition. We expect at least two peer-reviewed scientific publications as a result of this project. A case study on the collaborative effort between UH, producers, and RightRisk will be targeted for publication in the Journal of Extension. The results of this project will be presented at professional meetings through presentations and posters.
We will produce at least two UH Extension publications, one focused on mineral supplementation decisions and alternatives for Hawaii producers, and a second focused on using the mineral supplementation decision support tool. Appropriate learning materials and handouts for each of the three workshop/field day series and webinars will be developed and provided to participants. These will include presentations with handouts, worksheets, and additional reading materials. These materials will also be uploaded to the University of Hawaii-Manoa Hawaii Rangelands website (http://globalrangelands.org/hawaii/) for public access.
At the first workshop, participants will be presented with pre- and post-program questionnaires that will poll their level of knowledge, experience and views on mineral supplementation, their willingness to evaluate current mineral program and adopt or change mineral programs based on new knowledge, information, or experiences gained. The post-program questionnaire will additionally ask participants to identify how their views, knowledge and decisions regarding mineral supplementation have changed in light of the workshop. They will also be asked to identify whether or not they will assess and/or make changes to their mineral programs, and what roadblocks/objections to adoption exist if any. Participants will also be asked to evaluate the workshop, materials, and presenters and fill out the WSARE outreach survey.
Successive workshop series questionnaires will also be provided pre- and post-workshop (workshop two, three, and webinars) and will build on the first workshop questions by asking participants to identify if they made substantive changes to their mineral supplementation programs as a result of information and knowledge gained through the project. In the pre-program questionnaire they will also be asked to analyze their decision to change, elaborate on their experiences in making the changes, number of cows put on an individual mineral program, and to indicate if they will continue with the new program or return to their original. They will be asked to identify the reasons for their decisions. The post-program questionnaire will focus on determining if their views, and/or decisions have changed as a result of what they learned in the given workshop and will ask that they identify how their decisions have changed, and what their actions will be as a result of those changes. Participants that attend the second and third workshops, but did not participate in the first will be given the first workshop questionnaire. Participants will also be asked to evaluate the workshop, materials, and presenters and fill out the WSARE outreach survey.
To accomplish these pre-and post-program questionnaires we will utilize a mixture of media including traditional hand-outs and Audience Response Devices (“clickers”) to capture anonymous responses electronically.