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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 small farm beef cow nutrition

Basics to Beef Cow Nutrition

Basics to Small Farm Beef Cow Nutrition

Adam Hady

Agriculture Agent

Richland County UWEX

key nutrients
Key Nutrients
  • Six Basic Nutrients
    • Water
    • Protein
    • Carbohydrates
    • Fats
    • Minerals
    • Vitamins
nutrient requirements
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.
nutrient composition
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.

nutrient composition5
Nutrient Composition

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

  • Dry matter
  • Crude Protein
  • Energy
  • Fiber
  • Minerals

Feed Analysis

dry matter
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

crude proteins
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.

crude proteins8
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)

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)


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.


  • Starch, fats, cellulose and proteins
    • Majority of energy in beef cattle rations is the cellulose in forage.

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.

minerals and vitamins

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
minerals and vitamins14
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
how nutrients are used
How Nutrients are Used
  • Maintenance
  • Lactation
  • Growth
  • Reproduction

In order of priority for the cow

tdn and cp
TDN and CP

Source: NRC, 2000

dry matter intakes
Dry Matter Intakes

Source: NRC, 2000

adding energy for the elements
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

does only hay provide
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
pasture is a gift
Pasture is a Gift

Source: NRC, 2000

evaluating your feeding program
Evaluating Your Feeding Program
  • The best way to evaluate your feeding program is by the animals themselves.
  • Use Body Condition Scoring as a guide.
body score condition scoring
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.
body condition scoring
Body Condition Scoring

Score of 1-9

Score of 1 – is Sick and Weak.

Score of 9 - Extremely Fat

Want a score of 6

when to evaluate body score
When to Evaluate Body Score
  • Key times to look at body condition scoring:
    • Beginning of your breeding season
    • At weaning
    • Calving time
sources references
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
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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