Beef Cattle: Nutrition

In the real world feeding cattle is not that difficult, however, successful feeding programs should be established with basic principles in mind. Understanding the ruminant digestion systems, developing a nutritional management program, balancing animal requirements with rations, managing consumption, and other factors affecting the over-all health of a cow should be understood to a greater degree.

Information and Resources

Link Pointer Reading a Feed Tag for Beef Cattle
Feed costs make up the majority of input costs in beef cattle production. Understanding the information presented on a feed tag equips the buyer with knowledge required to select an appropriate feed to meet the nutritional demands of their cattle. There are a vast number of commercial feeds on the market, so comparing multiple feeds can often be a challenge. Just like a hay test is the only way to know the nutritional value of your hay, a feed tag is the only way to compare among different brands and types of commercial cattle feed.

Link Pointer Managing Hay Supplies for the Cow Herd
There are many things to consider when trying to make it through a tight hay feeding season. In some years, especially those with periods of drought, hay supplies are limited for the beef cattle herd. In those years, it is helpful to have a strategy to cope with the situation. When managing short hay supplies, it is important to assess the situation, look for additional forage, stretch hay supplies with supplements, manage feeding and keep an eye on body condition. Understand what the needs of the herd are, what your hay and feed inventory look like, and how to select the right supplement. Reduce waste at storage and feed out to use what hay you do have efficiently. Finally, use body condition scoring as a way to monitor nutritional status and make adjustments as needed.

Link Pointer Making Informed Nutrition Management Decisions
Beef cattle spend much of their lives grazing pasture, and, especially in the Southeast, forage is available for grazing many days out of the year. However, there are times when cattle may need to be supplemented or fed, specifically when there is a forage or nutrient deficit or when greater animal performance is desired. Supplementation and feeding programs are not the same for every cattle operation. There are many factors at play including forage quality, class and stage of production of cattle, labor and facilities, and accessibility and economics of feedstuffs.

Link Pointer Forage Analysis Interpreter- Beef Breeding Female Basic Version 1.0
The purpose of this calculator is to aid in the interpretation of forage analysis results for beef cattle and to simplify supplementation decisions. In order to do so, the calculator automatically applies nutrient requirement information to the forage analysis results and cattle information that has been entered by the user. This specific calculator is intended only for use toward breeding females and is not applicable for use toward bulls or growing and/or finishing cattle.

Link Pointer Supplemental Feedstuff Selection and Calculators
Feed costs represent the majority of expenses incurred in any production segment of the beef cattle industry. While forages are utilized as the major source of nutrients for beef cattle in Tennessee, forages often do not contain adequate nutrients to support a desired level of production. In these situations, supplementation is often required to achieve production goals. while W374 is intended to be used to compare similar feedstuffs that differ in moisture content, such as wet vs. modified vs. dried distiller’s grains.

Link Pointer Managing Malnourished Beef Cattle
The vast majority of beef cattle are very well cared for. Unfortunately, occasional groups of cattle are found to be malnourished and in need of special care.

Link Pointer Mineral Nutrition of Beef Cattle
The mineral status of the brood-cow herd affects reproduction, growth, milk production and health. All of these can affect profitability, yet the cost of improving mineral status is low compared to production returns.

Link Pointer Rumen Microbes
Learn more about the role of the rumen and lower gut microorganisms and their impact on the host’s performance and health. The ruminant is a fascinating animal due to its ability to convert feed and forage into energy and microbial protein thanks to the activity of its gut microbial community: bacteria, archaea, protozoa, and fungi.