Cobalt is an important mineral for cattle, especially for calves. Cows get their supply of cobalt from the soil, but when it’s lacking there, they will require supplements to make up for it. Cobalt helps synthesize vitamin B12, which is essential for energy metabolism and the production of red blood cells. Learn about some signs of cobalt deficiency and how you can treat them in today’s blog post. Visit our website for more on cattle care. 

Who needs cobalt? All ruminants need a supply of cobalt to synthesize vitamin B12. Young cattle need it more than most, though. Since their bodies are working so hard to grow, they need constant supplies of energy. If they can’t synthesize B12, a vitamin pivotal to energy metabolism, they can’t get the energy they need to grow. Additionally, since they are young, they have low reserves of cobalt to fall back on. 

What affects cobalt availability? Soil type can be a huge factor in cobalt availability. Deep sandy soils or gravelly areas will typically lack cobalt. Poorly drained soils will actually have more cobalt, and waterlogging will increase cobalt availability to the plant. Cobalt is not an essential nutrient to plants, and high growth rates in the spring will dilute the amount of cobalt in each plant. Remember to rotate your pastures for best results. 

What are the signs? Cobalt deficiency can look like scaly ears, anemia, low appetite, a rough, pale coat, reduced milk production, and scours in calves. Cobalt deficiency can be tested through blood tests or pasture tests. 

How can you prevent deficiency? The best way to prevent deficiency in calves when low cobalt is suspected in the pasture is with injectable vitamin B12. A single injection will prevent the development of deficiency for six to eight weeks. Fertilizers can also be used, but this option can be expensive.

Cobalt deficiency can be easily managed if you have the knowledge. Stay tuned to our website to learn more about cattle management and keep your herd thriving.