Winter Phosphorus Needs

We put out the Free Choice Enterprises mineral feeder in mid-December. I’m amazed how much phosphorus the cows are eating. I filled three holes with phosphorus and they have eaten 2/3 of it. These pictures were taken on January 1.

The cows have nearly finished the phosphorus in this slot:
Phosphorus1Below you can see (from left) kelp, redmond salt and phosphorus. I would have to find my way across Hoth to see what is in the last slot on the right. Sorry. The cows don’t seem to want the kelp. The salt has seen very little action and wasn’t full to begin with. The phosphorus on this end is about 50%.


On the other side I have another slot dedicated to phosphorus. On the left is unknown. Again, I’ll have to wander into the frozen tundra to see it now. Next is iodine then phosphorus. To the right is sulphur.

Phosphorus3Keep in mind that every slot was full to the top when we started out. A fair amount of iodine, a little trace mineral, a little sulphur. But the cows have basically emptied two phosphorus slots. My understanding is that this is because phosphorus is hard to come by in stored forages. Once we green up again in the spring we should see much less of a need for phosphorus. But I didn’t anticipate this level of need. Basically, 10 cows are going through a bag of phosphorus ($28) every week. Wow! So…back to the budget we go.

The other surprise for me here was that the cows turned their back on kelp. They have absolutely consumed kelp all year up till now. My Fertrell dealer suggested they were using the kelp heavily in the spring to meet their magnesium needs and he suggested I put out some epsom salts. Next year I don’t think I’ll have to guess what they need. I’ll just watch the mineral box and see what goes down.

9 thoughts on “Winter Phosphorus Needs

    • I believe for the mineral feeder and the 16-way mineral program and delivery it was something like $630. I could have built the mineral feeder myself to save $250. But I have enough unfinished projects already. The company can probably point you to a farmer near you who uses their product so you can talk to them and take a look. The closer the better as their mineral deficiencies will be your mineral deficiencies and you can budget more appropriately.

      Also, I have to point you to Jim Elizondo’s Hayless Winter Grazing in Florida video again. On the last disk he’s doing Q&A in front of a garage filled with pallets of minerals.

  1. I don’t have cows but find this pretty intriquing. It jump starts me to think of my vegetable gardens, chickens and how in the end it affects us etc. Fascinating stuff, really. Thanks for posting!

    • Thanks Sandy. A lot of the same thinking goes into soil amendments. It’s just that with cows, I can be lazy. The cows know what they need and will go to get it. I have to listen to the carrots…if you know what I mean.

      Here’s to hoping a good dose of compost and a sprinkling of green sand and lime will do the trick again!

  2. Hmmm I wonder if I should call them and have them put another bag of phosphorus on my pallet. I am getting their recommended starter setup whenever the truck gets back from being stuck in New York. I better get busy and build the feeder.

    • Paul,
      I just ordered 8 more bags of phosphorus to get me through till spring. The last three days our cows have been at the barn for the cold snap that hit. Otherwise they have been out on stockpiled fescue, turnips and radishes. They do not have access to their mineral feeder in the feedlot but I suspect their need for minerals is higher on dry feed than on hay and stockpile.

      I really, really like their feeder. The main frame of it is rough cut oak 2×12 or 2×14. It is massive. I doubt I would be as happy with one I had put together.

  3. Your heart is heavy with budget concerns, as it should be this time of year when you can find the occasional day to dream and plan and budget. My Bible study time today happened to be Luke 12: 35 – 48. I thought of you. You do a good job.

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