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Practical Beef Nutrition and Ration Formulation. Dan Loy 301 Kildee Basic Outline. Nutrient Requirements of Importance Adjustments to Requirements (beef cows) Heifer development Adjustments to Requirements (feedlot) Introduction to BRANDS

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practical beef nutrition and ration formulation

Practical Beef Nutrition and Ration Formulation

Dan Loy

301 Kildee

basic outline
Basic Outline
  • Nutrient Requirements of Importance
  • Adjustments to Requirements (beef cows)
  • Heifer development
  • Adjustments to Requirements (feedlot)
  • Introduction to BRANDS
  • Common Nutritional “problems” (time permitting)
nutrient requirements of importance
Nutrient Requirements of Importance
  • Energy
  • Protein
  • Major Minerals
  • Minor Minerals and Vitamins
partitioning of energy

Gross Energy (GE)

Digestible Energy (DE)

Metabolizable Energy (ME)

Net Energy (NE)

Digestion loss (fecal)

Urine loss

Combustible gases (CH4)

Heat increment (HI)

-heat of fermentation

-heat of nutrient metabolism


-basal metabolism

-activity at maintenance

-sustaining body temp


-retained energy

net energy for production
Net Energy for Production
  • Weight Gain
    • Lean vs. Fat
  • Body Condition gain
  • Fetal Growth
  • Milk Production
net energy for maintenance
Net Energy for Maintenance
  • Basal Metabolism
  • Environmental adjustments
metabolizable protein
Metabolizable Protein




energy (TDN)


DIP (ammonia)


major minerals
Major Minerals
  • Calcium
    • Required for milk production and growth
    • Grains are low in Ca, Forages are high in Ca
  • Phosphorous
    • Required for milk production and growth
    • Grains and corn coproducts are high in P, and low in Ca
    • Ca:P may be important in steers because of urinary calculi
major minerals cont
Major Minerals cont’
  • Magnesium
    • Low in lush spring grass—Grass Tetany is a common deficiency
  • Salt
    • Sodium requirement, most feeds are low in sodium
  • Potassium
    • High in forages, low in grains.
  • Sulfur
    • Needed when urea is added. Toxicity is concern
trace minerals and vitamins
Trace Minerals and Vitamins
  • Trace Minerals for Beef Cattle
    • Co, Cu, I, Fe, Mn, Se, Zn
    • Should be part of sound mineral supplementation program
    • Regional differences
  • Vitamin Requirements
    • Vitamin A, D, E. Some B vitamins may be needed for stressed calves.
adjustments to requirements cows
Adjustments to Requirements (cows)
  • Stage of Production
  • Environmental Adjustments
  • Cow size and breed
  • Body Condition Scoring
effect of environment on energy requirements









Cold stress

Heat Stress









lower critical temperature
Lower Critical Temperature
  • Coat Description LCT
  • Summer or wet 59
  • Fall 45
  • Winter 32
  • Heavy winter 18
effective temperature
Effective Temperature


Wind Speed -10 0 10 20 30

Calm -10 0 10 20 30

5 -16 -6 3 13 23

15 -25 -15 -5 4 14

30 -46 -36 -26 -16 -6

*Maintenance Requirements increase .7% for each degree

of cold stress.

environmental adjustments nrc
Environmental Adjustments NRC
  • Added are:
    • Internal insulation factors (body condition or fatness)
    • Hide thickness
    • Heat production from feed
body condition scoring
Body Condition Scoring
  • Management tool for adjusting energy requirement of beef cows
  • Also used to evaluate previous nutrition of feeder cattle
thin cows
Thin Cows
  • 1  Severely emaciated; starving and weak; no palpable fat detectable over back, hips or ribs; tailhead and individual ribs prominently visible; all skeletal structures are visible and sharp to the touch; animals are usually disease stricken. Under normal production systems cattle in this condition score are rare.
  • 2  Emaciated; similar to BCS 1, but not weakened; little visible muscle tissue; tailhead and ribs less prominent.
  • 3  Very thin; no fat over ribs or in brisket; backbone easily visible, slight increase in muscling over BCS 
borderline and optimum
Borderline and Optimum
  • borderline
  • 4  Borderline; individual ribs noticeable but overall fat cover is lacking; increased musculature through shoulders and hindquarters; hips and backbone slightly rounded versus sharp appearance of BCS 3.
  • optimum
  • 5  Moderate; increased fat cover over ribs, generally only 12th and 13th ribs are individually distinguishable; tailhead full, but not rounded.
  • 6  Good; back, ribs, and tailhead slightly rounded and spongy when palpated; slight fat deposition in brisket.
fat condition
Fat Condition
  • 7  Fat; cow appears fleshy and carries fat over the back, tailhead, and brisket; ribs are not visible; area of vulva and external rectum contain moderate fat deposits; may have slight fat in udder.
  • 8  Very fat; squared appearance due to excess fat over back, tailhead, and hindquarters; extreme fat deposition in brisket and throughout ribs; excessive fat around vulva and rectum, and within udder; mobility may begin to be restricted.
  • 9  Obese; similar to BCS 8, but to a greater degree; majority of fat deposited in udder limits effective lactation. Under normal production systems cattle in this condition score are rare.

Condition Scoring Examples

  • Condition Score 3
  • Condition Score 6
  • Condition Score 8

Pictures from NDSU factsheet AS-1026

condition scoring of cows
Condition Scoring of Cows
  • Optimum is condition 5-6 at calving
  • Each condition score it 80 to 150 pounds depending on cow size
  • It is best to condition score cows in the fall to allow sufficient time for condition score gain
heifer development
Heifer Development
  • Target Weight Concept
  • Heifers should be 60% of mature weight at breeding and 85% of mature weight at calving
  • Sets target weights and rate of gain
    • 1400 mature size should weigh: 840 at breeding and 1190 at calving. If fall weight is 500 lb., in November (210 days before breeding), then ADG needs to be 1.6 to breeding.
adjustments to requirements feedlot
Adjustments to Requirements (feedlot)
  • Frame size
  • Implants
  • Feed additives
  • Step up programs
  • Bunk Management/Monitoring
the normal growth curve
The Normal Growth Curve


for more rapid

growth changes

the shape

methods of increasing grain
Methods of Increasing Grain

Ration Step












Increasing Grain












feed additives for feedlot cattle
Feed Additives for Feedlot Cattle
  • Ionophores
  • MGA
  • Optaflexx
  • Broad spectrum antibiotics
  • Coccidiostats
adapting cattle to grain
Adapting cattle to grain
  • Two parts
    • Manage feed consumption
    • Adjust rumen microbes to new substrate
    • Each may take 2-3 weeks with calves
    • May only take 4 weeks with previously adapted yearlings
  • Thumb rule for initial grain consumption
    • .5 to 1% of bodyweight
developing a starting program some examples
Developing a Starting Program (some examples)
  • determine expected intake
  • determine eventual ration
  • determine beginning concentrate levels
goal of feedbunk management
Goal of Feedbunk Management
  • Deliver a consistent, nutritious, fresh ration in a manner that maximizes feed intake and minimizes waste and spoilage.
some items a good bunk sheet should contain
Pen Number

Lot Number

Head Count

In Weight

Current Weight

Days on Feed

Days on Ration

Indication of Slick Bunks

Indication of When Bunks Last Cleaned

Amount of Feed Fed Last 5-7 Days

Some Items a Good Bunk Sheet Should Contain

From Horton (1990)

sdsu bunk scoring system
SDSU Bunk Scoring System
  • Developed to improve feed deliveries in a University Research Feedlot
  • Improved efficiency
  • Uses a 4-Point Bunk Scoring System

From Pritchard (1993)

making feed calls
Making Feed Calls
  • Cattle Aggressiveness
    • 25-50-25 Rule
  • Weather
    • Heat
    • Mud
    • Rain
    • Cold
  • Storm Rations?
other bunk mgmt factors
Other Bunk Mgmt Factors
  • Feed presentation
    • Mixing
    • Processing (particle size)
    • Fines (conditioners)
  • Nutritional Adequacy
cumulative performance of prescription fed cattle
Cumulative Performance of Prescription Fed Cattle


Item Prescription Ad libitum

Cumulative (121 days)

BW 1328 1331

ADG 3.84 3.85

DMI 23.57 26.39

F/G 6.15 6.90

Frequency of slick 69.3 39.7

bunks, %

Pritchard, 1997

beef nutrition via the brands software package

Beef Nutrition via the BRANDS Software Package

Drs. Daryl Strohbehn and Dan Loy

Extension Beef Specialists

what is brands
What is BRANDS?
  • BRANDS is a series of spreadsheet programs which work in conjunction with Microsoft® Excel to assist producers and beef professionals in balancing rations for all types of cattle.
  • BRANDS features 5 ration modules.
  • Beef Cow
  • Heifer
  • Growing Bull
  • Breeding Bull
programmed using
programmed using

“Nutrient Requirements of Beef Cattle”

Seventh Revised EditionUpdate 2000


Comes in two different types of packagesStandard Edition Modules For the beginner (Excel 5.0 & beyond)Professional Edition For the experienced nutritionist that has multiple clients (Excel 2000 & beyond)


Feed Library Worksheet

Common Feed Library Shared Between Modules

nutritional problems in beef cattle
Nutritional Problems in Beef Cattle
  • Grass Tetany
  • Urinary Calculi
  • Sulfur Toxicity (polioencephalamalacia)
  • Se deficiency
  • Acidosis and Bloat
  • Nitrate and urea toxicosis
  • Molds and mycotoxins