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  4. 1999
  5. June

Homemade Mineral Feeder/Cattle Rub

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The evolution of this livestock and grazing management tool began about 10 years ago on the Controlled Rotational Grazing Unit. I was discontent with the costs, periodic ineffectiveness, problems and labor demands associated with sprays, pour-ons and ear tags for external parasite control on our beef cattle. These things were not fitting well within our philosophy of production.

There is not space to include the whole story, so a brief summary is as follows. I considered everything known to me and readily available on the market at that time and decided a cattle rub was our best choice.We are rotational graziers. Early efforts to place the rub in gateways and alleyways of the multi-paddock unit were not successful for parasite control, nor were they user friendly. Through considerable replanning and trial and error experience, a multipurpose tool evolved (see photo). This composite tool is good for external parasite control, animal nutrition, grazing management, and is very grazier friendly in our rotational grazing unit.

We decided that the tool must be:

  1. user friendly,
  2. easily portable via a saddle horse, three- or four-wheeler ATV or common transport vehicle,
  3. effective for external parasite control,
  4. an excellent salt/mineral feeder and
  5. designed so that the feeder and rub were adjacent.

We could not locate a commercial tool like we wanted, so we built one that has all these characteristics.

This basic tool has provided excellent external parasite control. We use a Co-Ralâ„¢ and diesel solution, but there are several other choices. Diesel has worked well as our carrier, but we plan to switch to white mineral oil to minimize environmental impact and risk of irritation to cattle skin. When properly managed, the tool:

  1. prevents flies,
  2. controls flies,
  3. prevents lice,
  4. prevents grubs,
  5. helps control ticks and
  6. helps control fly transmitted eye disease.

Cattle like the tool. As a forage/livestock management tool it:

  1. helps keep cattle on paddocks versus lanes, shade trees or water points,
  2. aids in dispersing cattle,
  3. aids in changing the location of cattle,
  4. scatters cattle impact more uniformly,
  5. aids in making cattle rotations (shifts),
  6. baits cattle to a creep grazing access and
  7. baits cattle to ungrazed areas.

Since the first crude model we built, Noble Research Institute employees and other graziers have constructed many different models. Each builder tends to put their own personality and material resources in their model. However, all models contain the essential ingredients outlined above.

We place the tool in a paddock where it is readily accessible and where it does the cattle and forage management job we choose. We have had excellent external parasite control with up to 115 head of cattle per 10 foot rub.We believe a stock density of 50 head of cattle per salt/mineral feeding space is satisfactory for the loose salt/mineral mix we feed. There is no doubt that having the cattle all in one paddock under relatively moderate to high stock density (five to 90 head/acre) is important for success with the tool. Under such circumstances, the tool is readily accessible to the herd in a short distance.

We do not presently have precise blueprints available on the tools. But, we do have some photocopies of drawings and photographs that are helpful to welders in building the units. If you wish to obtain copies of this material, please contact the HelpLine at 580-224-6500.