Salt And Beef Cattle

       Salt has often been referreed to as the Beef Cattle Rancher’s Tool. No question that Salt And Beef Cattle go together.

     Thankfully, cattle have shown that they can regulate their intake of salt, and, for the rancher, salt can be a valuable management tool once you understand its effects on the cattle and how to control intake.

     Under normal range conditions, studies have shown cattle need roughly 20 pounds of salt per year, usually during the growing season to assist the cattle with faster metabolism.

     The salt is essential to any animal life, and is crucial to the transfer of nutrients and waste products. Salt also is a major component of the blood, and studies have shown that a lack of adequate salt intake will not only have negative consequences on the animal, but will decrease the productivity of the herd.

     As with any salt intake, an adequate supply of drinking water also must be available; however the salt should not be placed too close to the supply. Water is already a lure for cattle; some ranchers even go so far as to move their salt farthest away from the water supply as possible. Make sure your water supply is adequately spaced out. If it is too close, animals will congregate over an extended period of time.

Effects on the Range
    
Studies of ranchers in the southwest have shown that salt is not only beneficial for its nutritional and health benefits, but can be used as a tool as well. Grazing cattle herds trample the soil, increasing is filtration, among other benefits, and ranchers have found that salting the ground can be a good way to encourage larger groups of cattle to congregate in a certain area.

     If salt is present, the animals will go to it. Ranchers have discovered that large salt blocks placed in the same place year after year encourage the herd to move to them. This decreases the amount of management necessary for the herd and also brings a level of grazing predictability into play. When a portion of the pasture or range needs to rest, the salt supply in that area is left to be exhausted, and a new supply is put in another area, which the herd will eventually move to. By controlling the flow of the cattle with the salt, ranchers have found they can help assist in vegetation growth.

     The key for the rancher to utilize salt to achieve this is being aware of the condition of your pasture and also understanding and knowing growth periods for the various vegetation that exist on the land. Because different vegetation often have different growth periods, this can be somewhat challenging, however, it is not unmanageable.

     Of course, salt should never be left in the same spot for too long, and should be removed or moved as soon as plants have recovered in an area of pasture you have been avoiding.

     Many ranchers mistakenly believe controlling the herd with salt requires undue attention to the pasture and the herd, distracting them from other duties required. But, to establish consistency and routine, the amount of salt that should be placed in any given area should be able to be ingested by the cattle in no more than two days. That way, every two days, you can re-salt in a different area and ensure the cattle are moving at a steady and predetermined pace. By managing and documenting initial salt intake of the herd, you can easily establish a timing system based on your specific needs.

     Ultimately, the attraction of the cattle to the salt is a great tool for the rancher to manage and tend to their pasture. Herds move to find the salt, and this can encourage or discourage grazing in particular areas, improve soil conditions, allow vegetation to flourish, break up brush, and concentrate the cattle in one area, when necessary.

Specialized Grazing Systems For Beef Cattle 

 

 Red Beef Cattle Barn