Last updated on October 7th, 2020 at 11:16 am

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Have you ever wondered how different forms of mineral can be utilized by your herd?  How do you know whether to use loose mineral vs. tubs?  It can be difficult to know where to start, so let’s start off by examining some differences between loose mineral and lick tubs, so you can make the best decision on what form is best for managing your herd.   

Waste Factors 

Wind 

Most tubs are 200-250 pounds; it's not likely that they are going to blow away in the wind. With tubs, you can rest assured that you won't have any wind waste.

With loose mineral, you might fill up that mineral feeder and come back to find out it’s blown away and it’s gone.  You can eliminate wind waste by using a tub.   

Rain 

Another weather event that often impacts waste is when it rains. When it rains on a tub, the very top might get a little bit soft, but typically, cows will lick it away or it will dry up. Again, none of your tub is wasted due to rain.

Any loose mineral that has already blown onto the ground will unfortunately become wasted. When it gets wet, it will seep right into the ground and become unconsumable for your herd   

Bulls 

We all know bulls can be a little bit finicky and sometimes be challenging when it comes to mineral. However, with good practices and controls, you have a very good chance of controlling consumption with a tub.  He won’t knock over the tub like he might knock over a loose mineral feeder and cause your mineral to go to waste. When feeding loose mineral, bulls can accelerate the speed at which your mineral is wasted.   

Labor 

When it comes to a the labor of using tubs, it's really quite simple. Sure, tubs can be heavy and hard to move around, but once you put that tub out, it should last much longer than any loose mineral.  A tub is going to save you time, headaches, and overall labor.

If you feed a loose mineral, it's likely that you feed every day sometimes even twice a day. If you are feeding it in a TMR, you are dealing with that mineral every time you feed. If it is mixed with salt in a mineral feeder, you have to deal with it every time that feeder is empty, which can be fairly often.   

Advantages 

Digestion 

With the licking action a cow uses on a tub, she’s activating her salivary glands to produce more saliva.  It ends up into the rumen, which is the first step in digestion.  The saliva is going to help with the breakdown of her forage and better forage utilization.   

With loose mineral that cow will take a bite or lick of it and that loose mineral goes straight into the rumen.  Without the additional saliva production, loose mineral is not quite as beneficial for enhanced digestion.  

Palatability & Pecking Order 

Some cows might not touch loose mineral.  A tub is a lot more palatable to a cow.  You have your molasses or another carrier in formula, which is more palatable to the cow.  She is more likely to meet her requirement because it tastes good enough for her to consume. 

On the other hand, if you have loose mineral and even though mixed with salt, it may not be palatable.  Her requirements may not be met every single day if she doesn’t like the way that it tastes.   

If she’s not able to get to the mineral you are feeding, it also might be an issue with pecking order.  Sometimes, you might not be able to fill your loose mineral feeders as soon as they’re empty.  Once you do, those cows might go to that loose mineral right away and you might have 15 out of your 100 cows gobble it up within minutes.  The rest may not get their share until you fill it up again. 

With the Riomax® tubs, our consumption is much lower.  One tub is going to fulfill all of those animals so they should get a chance to consume what they need to meet their daily requirements.  With our high concentration, low consumption formulas, each cow requires much less time standing at that tub versus another [brand X] tub.  

What is the best mineral option for you?

At the end of the day, it comes down to your individual operation. Do you get a lot of rain? Do you live in a windy area? We know that lick tubs aren't a fit for everyone, but we do believe they can help eliminate waste. And because Riomax® tubs are so highly concentrated, they last longer, and reduce labor for you.

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