Basics to small farm beef cow nutrition
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Basics to Beef Cow Nutrition. Basics to Small Farm Beef Cow Nutrition. Adam Hady Agriculture Agent Richland County UWEX. Key Nutrients . Six Basic Nutrients Water Protein Carbohydrates Fats Minerals Vitamins. Nutrient Requirements .

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Basics to Beef Cow Nutrition

Basics to Small Farm Beef Cow Nutrition

Adam Hady

Agriculture Agent

Richland County UWEX

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Key Nutrients

  • Six Basic Nutrients

    • Water

    • Protein

    • Carbohydrates

    • Fats

    • Minerals

    • Vitamins

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Nutrient Requirements

The amount of nutrient that an animal needs to perform a specific purpose.

  • Determined by: weight, sex, age, growth rate, stage of production.

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Nutrient Composition

Nutrient composition is the amount of nutrients found in the feed source.

Nutrient Composition can be obtained from book values, which are just an averages for a feed, or you can have a feed analysis done.

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Nutrient Composition

Common information on the composition table for a feed stuff are:

  • Dry matter

  • Crude Protein

  • Energy

  • Fiber

  • Minerals

Feed Analysis

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Dry Matter

The % of a feed stuff that is not water.

For example: If hay is 88% dry matter then a 45 pound bale of hay would be 39.5 lbs of dry matter.

Rations will come in as pounds of dry matter (DM) or As Fed

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Crude Proteins

Proteins are the building block for animals and are chains of amino acids

Crude protein is determined by the amount of Nitrogen (N) in a feed multiplied by 6.25

N is used to determine the amount of protein, because of the N is critical part of the amino acid structure and makes up approximately 16% of the protein structure.

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Crude Proteins

  • Crude Protein in beef cow rations come primarily from the forage in the diet.

    • Pasture grass and forages are an excellent source of protein

    • There are also many protein supplements (feed that contain over 20% crude protein)

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Energy is defined as the capacity to do work.

In animal nutrition is determined by biological heat production Calories (cal), Kilocalorie (kcal), or Megacalorie (Mcal)

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Common measurements of energy in ration formulation

  • Gross Energy (GE) – total amount of energy in a feed source

  • Digestible Energy (DE) – Energy absorbed by the animal after consumption

  • Metabolizable Energy (ME) – Energy that is available through feed consumption

  • Net Energy (NE) – Similar to DE and ME

  • Total Digestible Nutrients (TDN) – A method that calculates energy based on crude protein and fiber.

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  • Starch, fats, cellulose and proteins

    • Majority of energy in beef cattle rations is the cellulose in forage.

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Estimates the amount of carbohydrate found in plants.

Unlike monogastrics, cattle utilize microbes in the rumen to breakdown the fiber, therefore providing energy to the animal.

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Two categories macro and micro minerals

Crystalline substances that can not be synthesized in the animal.

They provide the foundations for structure and function in the animal

Minerals and Vitamins

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Minerals and Vitamins


  • Two categories water soluble and fat soluble

  • Some vitamins can be synthesized in the body others can not.

  • They provide the foundations for structure and function in the animal

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How Nutrients are Used

  • Maintenance

  • Lactation

  • Growth

  • Reproduction

    In order of priority for the cow

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TDN and CP

Source: NRC, 2000

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Dry Matter Intakes

Source: NRC, 2000

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Nutrients by Calving Cycle

Source: NRC, 2000

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Adding Energy for the Elements

Rations of grain may be less effective than having a sufficient supply of good quality forages such as alfalfa or grass hay available at all times, since fiber digestion produces body heat in cattle . If animals are cleaning up everything quickly after feeding and have nothing to munch on until the next meal, you may not be putting enough forage out at a time to meet their extra needs during cold weather

Source: It’s Cold Outside

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Does Only Hay Provide??

  • I am going to feed a Late Bloom Orchard Grass Hay.

  • For the example Nutrients that we have been using:

    • TDN – 54 %DM

    • CP – 8.4 %DM

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Pasture is a Gift

Source: NRC, 2000

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Evaluating Your Feeding Program

  • The best way to evaluate your feeding program is by the animals themselves.

  • Use Body Condition Scoring as a guide.

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Body Score Condition Scoring

How this will help my feeding program:

  • gives an indication of reproductive perforce based on body condition

  • Can give you an estimate of nutrient need.

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Body Condition Scoring

Score of 1-9

Score of 1 – is Sick and Weak.

Score of 9 - Extremely Fat

Want a score of 6

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When to Evaluate Body Score

  • Key times to look at body condition scoring:

    • Beginning of your breeding season

    • At weaning

    • Calving time

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Sources & References

  • Nutrient Requirements of Beef Cattle, National Research Council, 2000

  • Livestock Feeds and Feeding, D.C. Church, 1991

  • UW- Extension Beef Web Page

  • Iowa Beef Center:

  • Body Condition Scoring Beef Cows, Virginia Cooperative Extension publication 400-795.

  • “It’s Cold Outside! Tips for Winter Livestock Care” by , Rhonda Gildersleeve Agriculture Agent Iowa County UW Extension from the Weekend Farmer Newsletter

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Questions ?????


Presenter INFO:

Adam Hady

Agriculture Agent

UWEX- Richland County


Presenter INFO:

Adam Hady

Agriculture Agent

UWEX- Richland County


Web site:

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