LET’S THROWDOWN – Tubs vs. Loose Mineral and Protein Sources

I frequently get asked which is better – tubs or loose mineral? My

diplomatic answer is usually this question, “What are your

goals for using the tub or loose mineral?” Contrary to popular belief, most lick tubs are not MINERAL tubs. They are PROTEIN tubs that contain some mineral. And while protein tubs have their place, and their convenience is unmatched, they are not generally the best delivery system for mineral.

In the table below, I’ve listed several of the vitamins/ minerals that we tend to include in sheep and goat diets. Let me reiterate, there is nothing wrong with lick tubs, but if you are experiencing a deficiency, it’s essential to understand how much of a vitamin or mineral the animal is actually receiving from the delivery system (without getting into other factors that affect absorption like bioavailability, oxidation, etc.).

We realize from this that there is a smaller consumption of loose mineral, yet a larger quantity of vitamins or minerals available to the animal.

The second important thing to think about is the cost of the protein source. The table above is not an apple-to-apple comparison because the tubs include added vitamins and minerals, and distillers do not. This is an introduction to help you consider what your feed is actually costing you.

While the cost per consumption is similar- remember that the low consumption rate related to a tub, when combined with poor quality hay or pasture, may not be enough to overcome a protein deficiency, especially in late gestation.

There are a million more ways to examine the differences in feeds. Every operation is different, and each has unique needs, which is why there are so many other options available to producers. One thing we all know is that lick tubs make excellent feed pans or waterers. A balanced ration is the most important thing- so let’s talk!