Evaluation of sustained release mineral boluses as a long-term nutrient delivery method for beef cattle

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Montana State University - Bozeman, College of Agriculture


Two studies were conducted to evaluate the efficacy of sustained release mineral boluses as an alternative nutrient delivery method for beef cattle. For both studies 16 ruminally-cannulated cows were used in a completely randomized design. In study 1, we evaluated degradation rates of two bolus prototypes and cow age (2-yr-old versus 3-yr-old cows) over an 87-d study period. In study 2, we evaluated two bolus types (90-d degradation target versus 180-d degradation target), as well as two diet qualities contrasting low-quality high-fiber forage (> 65% NDF and < 8% CP) and high-quality low-fiber forage (< 55% NDF and > 15% CP). For both Studies intake and digestion periods were conducted to evaluate cow age (study 1) or diet quality (study 2) effects on intake and rumen/reticulum function. In study 1, models containing an asymptotic effect of day and an interaction between day and bolus type received virtually all support of candidate models for bolus degradation rate. Cow age did not affect bolus degradation rates (Beta = -0.81 + or - 1.13; P= 0.48) and degradation rates were greater for bolus prototype B compared to bolus A (Beta prototype B = -20.39 + or - 1.13; Beta prototype A = -9.64 + or - 0.81; P < 0.01). In study 2, models containing a linear effect of day and an interaction between day and diet received virtually all support of candidate models for the degradation rate of the 90-d and 180-d prototype. In addition, both bolus protoypes displayed a diet quality + or - time interaction (P < 0.01) for bolus degradation rate. Cattle treated with the 90-d bolus and fed a high-quality diet had greater degradation rates (Beta High-quality = -2.64 + or - 0.08; Beta Low-quality = -1.97 + or - 0.10; P < 0.01) than the cows that were fed a low-quality diet. In contrast, cattle treated with the 180-d bolus expressed greater degradation rates (Beta Low-quality = -0.09 + or - 0.007; Beta High-quality = -0.04 + or - 0.005; P < 0.01) with cows on the low-quality diet versus the high-quality diet. Across both studies, two of four bolus prototypes met target release rates at 90 days. However, bolus degradation characteristics varied and were influenced by diet quality.




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