Two studies were conducted to evaluate the effectiveness of low-moisture blocks (LMB) and conventional dry mixes (CDM) for supplementing minerals to cattle on rangeland and to modify grazing patterns. In study 1, cows were fed LMB or CDM on moderate or difficult foothill terrain in Montana during autumn and winter. Cows consumed more CDM in moderate terrain than difficult terrain, but intake of LMB was similar in both terrain types. Using global positioning system (GPS) telemetry data, visits to supplements were defined as collared cow positions within 10 m of placement sites. More cows visited LMB (74%) than CDM (56%). More cows visited supplements (LMB and CDM pooled) when placed in moderate rather than difficult terrain. Cows spent more nonresting time within 100 and 200 m of LMB than CDM. In study 2, CDM and LMB designed to supplement minerals (LMB-M) were compared when cows were also fed LMB designed to supplement protein (LMB-P). Comparisons were made with cows grazing rangeland and with cows fed hay. Intake of LMB-P and CDM was less when cows grazed rangeland than when they were fed hay. Cows consumed less LMB-P when LMB-M was available. More cows visited LMB-M than CDM, and cows visited LMB-M more frequently than CDM. The LMB formulations designed to supplement minerals work well with formulations designed to supplement protein. Both LMB and CDM met estimated deficits of minerals in the forage based on supplement intake (g·day−1) and forage evaluations, but cows visited LMB more consistently than CDM. Low-moisture blocks appear to be more attractive to cows than CDM and should be more useful to modify grazing patterns on rangeland.
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Vol. 60 • No. 1