Beef Cattle Feed
Beef cattle feed must be carefully selected to take care of all the nutritional
requirements of the animals. Beef cattle need different types of feed at different stages in life. Growing and
pregnant animals have different needs than older animals. Rate of growth of young calves also depends on their
diet. Cows need special feed during different stages of their reproduction cycle. Both over and under intake of
nutrients must be taken care of to avoid any complications.
National Research Council’s (NRC) publication,
Nutrient Requirements of Beef Cattle, 1996 is the most preferred standard for beef cattle feed. Use of NRC’s
metabolizable protein system over crude protein lowers nutrients excretion, while providing the necessary proteins
and amino acids to the beef cattle. Excessive amino acids will lead to nitrogen excretion. Levels of Phosphorus
must also be balanced to minimize excretion. Sodium accumulation can be problem in arid and semiarid climates. It
is very important to limit the salt intake. Grass tetany problems can exist with forages leading to potassium
accumulation. Grain proportion of feed must be increased slowly, following a step by step procedure to allow cattle
rumen to adjust and digest it properly. Rapid high intake of grain may lead to several metabolic problems like
acidosis, founder, liver abscesses or even sudden death.
Water is also a very special part of diet and a medium to add minerals to the beef
cattle feed. Owners can use computer software to calculate nutritional needs of different animals and design feeds
suitable to individual requirements. They can help reduce costs of feed programs and balance nutritional needs of
animals. Also available are ration balancing software to compare prices of different food products.
Beef cattle feed must also be stored well to reduce the nutrient loss. Improper storage
causes loss of the nutrients to the environment, and hence a low quality feed. Feed nutrients also affect the
nutrients of beef cattle manure. Alternative beef cattle feed products are also good options. They are cheaper and
usually are byproducts or waste products of crops. Alternative feed products like soybean hulls, rice bran, corn
gluten feed, wheat middlings, whole cottonseed, feather meal, blood meal, corn gluten meal and distillers dried
grains are good sources of protein. Good sources of energy are cane molasses, hominy feed, brewers grain, corn
distillers grains and corn gluten feed. High fiber sources are citrus pulp, soy hulls, cottonseed hulls, peanut
hulls and rice bran.