Mineral Nutrition for Beef Cows: An Extension Education Program

In 2017, in an effort to support my own continuing education, I attended the first mineral nutrition for beef cows program. The very first program was an all day meeting hosted by Adele Harty of SDSU Extension at the Cottonwood Range and Livestock Field Station. The day was packed with an abundance of information. Subsequently, Ward Laboratories, Inc. has supported this program through offering discounted testing of forages and water to participants.

History of the Program

The first meeting was a success. Harty organized several speakers to explain:

So, producers went away from the initial meeting with a lot to ruminate on.  Over the summer months, Harty visited their individual operations. She provided guidance based on forage, feed and water analysis as well as feed tag information. Then, the group met in Wall, SD for another day jam packed with information.

The fall meeting provided clarity on the information producers had collected over the summer months. Therefore, the group learned about mineral nutrition for beef cows specific to their operation. Topics covered included:

  • applied mineral nutrition
  • interpreting mineral results
  • diagnosing consumption issues
  • customer mineral formulation
  • a cost/benefit analysis from a producer’s perspective.

In 2018, this program expanded to include producers from North Dakota. Dr. Janna Block, is the extension specialist who executed the on farm visits for North Dakota producers.

However, 2020 brought a new set of challenges with Covid-19 precluding most in person events. So, the program changed format from in-person to being a webinar based program. With the webinar structure, the opportunity arose from more states to join the educational program.

Therefore, in 2021, the program expanded to include Montana and Wyoming. So, Dr. Megan Van Emon and Dr. Shelby Rosasco began working with producers from each state respectively.

The Mineral Nutrition for Beef Cows Program Today

Today, the program is made of up a series of spring webinars, an on-site specialist visit, and a series of fall webinars. Consequently, Harty has coordinated many expert speakers over the years. Similar to the first program, she has packed a lot of information into the program. However, with the webinar format the information is in more manageable pieces.

“This program has evolved and improvements have been made every year to address the challenges and concerns brought forth by participants. As a result, this is a unique program that provides hands-on, individualized assistance to ranchers that can make a meaningful difference to their operations.”
– Adele Harty, SDSU Extension Cow/Calf Field Specialist

Furthermore, another participant provided feedback stating:

“There is so much to learn from this program. I feel like we just started to gain an understanding of the complexity of a mineral consumption program. I would like to participate a second year.”

Additionally, I have attended at least a portion of this program since its beginning. Each year, the program helps me brush up my knowledge of mineral nutrition for beef cows. Moreover, I learn something new with each speaker!


Finally, if you are interested in this program contact Adele Harty.

“Any beef cattle producer who is interested in learning more about mineral nutrition and the mineral status of their herd could benefit from participating in this program. ”
– Adele Harty, SDSU Extension Cow/Calf Field Specialist

Ward Laboratories, Inc. will continue supporting extension education initiatives like this one through our analytical services.




About the author

Rebecca earned her M.S. in Animal Nutrition from the University of Wyoming with a collaborative project with the US Meat Animal Research Center. She is an active member of the American Registry of Professional Animal Scientists. With a passion for producer education she is a regular contributor to Progressive Forage Magazine. Currently, she serves as the Immediate Past President of the NIRS Forage and Feed Testing Consortium (NIRSC).

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