Why do my 8-month-old steers eat bark? We give them grain and hay, but sometimes they will leave some hay and start eating bark off trees and limbs.

Sometimes, cattle get — for lack of a better word — bored and will chew on bark and wooden fences and feed bunks. Seeking or trying to consume something that is not considered “normal” food for the animal in question is called pica. Sometimes, animals seek wood because of a nutrient imbalance. Commonly, pica is associated with low phosphorus intake. Consider using simple changes to see if they will solve the problem. Since it is unknown what the cattle are eating now, make sure that the cattle have salt and a commercial mineral mix accessible at all times. Start with a simple, economical, and commercial mineral mix purchased at most feed stores that is 12 percent phosphorous and 12 percent calcium and includes other minerals and vitamins. This mineral mix works well for cattle consuming a mostly forage diet. If the cattle are on a high concentrate diet, use a “feedlot” mineral block.