Beef Cattle Feed, Feed testing and Ration Design
Beef Cattle Feed and Nutrient requirements of livestock vary with age, size, level of production and reproduction.
Nutrient utilization is most efficient when nutrient supply in the diet is in balance with nutrient requirements of animals.
Feedstuffs vary in their nutrient contents greatly from field to field, year to year, and species to species.
The level and type of fertilization, stage of maturity and method of storage and processing, also affect nutrient composition of feeds.
To balance rations you must know exactly what nutrients are present and in what amounts. This information is imperative when roughage mixtures of unknown proportions are harvested and unfamiliar materials are going to be used in feeding livestock. ~
The only accurate method of getting precise information is by laboratory analysis of feed samples. Feeds can be analyzed for crude protein, estimated digestible energy, essential minerals and vitamins, and for toxic substances such as nitrates and prussic acid.
Fees vary depending on the number and kind of analyses and approximate actual costs involved.
Testing also provides a full range of ration balancing and feeding advice based on information provided by the producer. Computerized ration formulations includes “least-costing” whenever possible. This service is included in the cost of the analysis. If laboratory analyses of feeds and advice on their use are to be meaningful it is essential that samples be properly taken, and that they be accompanied by detailed information about the use to which the feeds will be put.
Sampling devices and information sheets are available from agricultural representatives, livestock extension specialists, and other persons involved in servicing the livestock industry.