Feeding The Herd

Feeding The Herd is the entire backbone of any beef cattle operation. It consumes the most time, the most cost and must be consistent.

An adequate nutrition program is a definite requirement if there is to be any chance at a successful cow-calf breeding enterprise. Remember too that expensive grasslands require efficient utilization of the forages produced. Any supplemental feeding programs needed must be programmed to meet but not exceed the nutrient needs of the cow herd and at the same time still utilize any forage supplies.

     One must remember that the nutrient requirements of cattle change with age, stage of lactation, their sex and the environmental situation. You should strive to learn the nutrient requirements and develop the ability to match them to the cattle based on their size, age, sex and stage of production. You will need to take into consideration the right forages and right supplements all at the right time.

     A cow will need adequate protein to allow her to digest roughages in the right amounts to meet her production needs and the requirements of her body tissues. Again the amount of protein requirements will vary and the amounts can best be learned from feed books with tables showing the recommended amounts.

     Special consideration should be given to lactating first and second calf heifers because they are continuing to grow and feed a baby at the same time. Lactating heifers with their first and second calf will need more protein than mature cows. This will be even more so in beef cattle that are part dairy breed due to higher mi8lk production.

     Another major factor in protein needs is the cow size. Don’t overlook the fact that a 1500 pound cow will need fifty percent more overall feed and nutrition than a 1000 pound cow. Don’t be guilty of trying to feed based on the number of head.

     Nutrition of the Herd Bull is often overlooked. You should not be surprised to learn that breeding bulls require about the same protein as lactating cows. Young bulls, as youg heifers, need additional amounts for growth in addition to daily maintenance.

     And don’t forget that just like your Pickup, the beef cattle needs energy to maintain grazing, milk production, growth, warmth, reproduction, digestion and voiding the body wastes. The most of their energy comes from the rumen digestion of forages and roughage type feed. If given adequate protein and minerals, their rumen is capable of getting energy from a very wide range of feedstuff that is useless to non ruminant animals.

     The standard measure for energy in the diets of grazing beef cattle is total digestible nutrients commonly known as TDN. Net energy as used in dairy animals is somewhat of an elusive factor when it comes to standing forage so it is almost useless for most cow calf operations. TDN is actualy the sum of the digestible starch, fiber, protein and fat in a feed with a correction for the high energy content of fat.