The best feed ration for beef cattle is the one that is formulated to provide the daily nutrient requirements of your beef cattle economical, palatable, and should have zero toxic substances. These feed rations should provide a large amount of energy proportionate to your beef cattle’s body mass. With this type of intake, beef cattle fatten after meeting the daily body maintenance needs.
Farmers keep beef cattle primarily for meat production. But did you know that only approximately 45% of beef cattle body is used for meat? Yes! The rest comes in handy in the manufacture of other byproducts such as insulin, pharmaceuticals, leather, soap, and more. I thought you should know.
As we have mentioned in all of our previous articles, cattle feeding is both an art and science. The feed ration technique for cattle, including beef, ensures that they eat a balanced diet that meets their daily nutrient needs at low costs while avoiding wastage and increasing body mass.
Today, we shall teach you the best feed ratio for beef cattle so that they can consume high-energy rations and gain more weight while remaining healthy.
Best Healthy Feed for Beef Cattle
The most popular and healthy feed for beef cattle include:
Although hay provides the entire vital nutrient your beef cattle requires, you will have to pick it up during its peak nutrient-rich height. Mix grass and alfalfa hay as they have the protein content your beef cattle needs and is available in a range of types that offer appropriate nutrition.
Make sure that the hay is thoroughly treated and carefully stored to avoid decay and damage.
Grain supplements are an excellent alternative for beef cattle farmers with little or no access to quality hay and grazing pastures. In fact, most farmers feed their beef cattle grains to support fast growth and fattening.
Do not feed your beef cattle primarily on supplements as they will shun away from foraging and pastures.
Pasture & Forage
Forage & pasture also provides your beef cattle with all the necessary nutrients, especially when the soil is fertile for rich grass growth. If you are looking for the most lucrative beef cattle feeding solution, pasture is the way to go. All you need is fertile soil and plenty of water.
While they are expensive than forages, concentrates are rich in carbohydrates, low in fiber, and have high nutritional value. They include corn, liquid supplements, corn, oats, sorghum, wheat, wheat bran, grain sorghum, and barley.
Feed Rationing for Beef Cattle
Beef cattle daily protein ratio and requirement depend on the energy density, either high or low. As a rule of the thumb, fewer pounds of the high-energy ratio is needed day-to-day to meet your beef cattle’s energy needs while maintaining the same protein.
NPN (non-protein nitrogen) and urea compounds are excellent alternatives for some protein in the ruminant rations. When it comes to urea, both dry and liquid supplements offer equal value to your beef cattle. Both urea and NPN compounds are good for cutting protein costs for farmers.
Phosphorus, salt, potassium, and calcium are the main minerals in cattle feed rations and should be mixed fully and properly into your beef cattle’s daily regime. Cattle feed ingredients high in calcium include alfalfa, limestone, and other legumes whole grains are rich in phosphorus. The phosphorus-calcium ratio should be 1:1 and 2.1.
Vitamins A, D, and E are also essential for beef cattle as vitamin B & K can be synthesized in sufficient amounts in the cattle’s rumen. Vitamin A is the most important in beef cattle feeding and should make up 15,000 to 30, 000 UI per cattle. Vitamin D, on the other hand, is only vital during winter. Add 2 – 5 UI of vitamin E for each pound of high-grain rations devoid of leafy fibers boosts feedlot.
The main grains that you should feed your beef cattle are milo and corn, and limit oats and wheat to 30% and 50%, respectively in finishing rations. If reaped with 25% to 30% moisture content and ensiled, milo has shown 8% to 15% feed efficiency improvement in beef cattle.
Feeding beef cattle a blend of grains can cut acidosis and boost weight gain and productivity approx. 5% as shown in some trials in the University of Nebraska. Beef cattle need plenty of energy and protein and byproduct feeds such as corn bran, poultry litter, soybean hulls are available at a cut-rate. Other byproduct feeds include corn gluten feed, brewers & distillers grains, oat bran, whole cottonseed, wheat mids, and rice bran.
High-concentrate rations have been used productively to finish beef cattle but not without drawbacks such as reduced energy intake, digestive issues, liver abscesses, and parakeratosis of the rumen wall.
Advice to Beef Cattle Farmers
As you can see, beef cattle require specific nutrients to grow well and be healthy. So, make sure that the cattle’s daily regime and plan contain grain, free-choice minerals, and hay to support proper growth and development.
Feeding your beef cattle ground shelled corn as they transition from open fields to feedlots before a slaughter helps sweeten the meat and adds fat. This, in turn, improves meat quality by making the meat cuts tender and soft.
Examples of Feeding Plans for Beef Cattle
- For calves that will be kept for an extra year after winter so they can grow to maturity, feed them:
- 2 to 4 pounds of grain
- 10 to 14 pounds of hay each day (½ must be legume hay)
- Plenty of mineral block
- For fattening beef calves to sell or slaughter after winter, feed them the rations below so they can add approx. 2 lbs. of weight per week each:
- 5 to 7 pounds of grain
- 8 to 10 pounds of hay
- ½ pound of protein supplement
- Plenty of mineral block
- For finishing (before sale or slaughter), feed the following rations:
- 4 to 6 pounds of grass hay
- Shelled corn based on cattle’s weight
- 1 pound of protein supplement
- Plenty of mineral block
Feed your beef cattle with high-quality pasture to ensure they get all the nutrients they should from their daily forage consumption. Do you wish to supplement your beef cattle’s regime with commercial feed? Look for feeds that are specifically formulated for beef cattle.
According to Penn State’s Agricultural Extension, Cattle weighing 700 pounds or more should be fed a rations that contain 11 percent crude protein, which is made up of grain (often corn, but barley and wheat are frequently used), protein sources, and roughage.
Larger-framed cattle tend to require a ration that is higher in crude protein, while smaller-framed cattle generally do well on rations that are lower in crude protein.
Factors to consider when choosing the best feed ration for beef cattle:
- Size of the cow: Larger-framed cattle need a higher protein diet, while smaller-framed cattle can get by with a lower protein diet.
- The age of the cow: Younger cows need a higher protein diet to help them grow properly, while older cows don’t require as much protein.
- The type of cow: Dairy cows generally need a higher protein diet than beef cows.
- The climate: Cattle in warm climates need a higher protein diet than cattle in cooler climates.
- The level of activity: More active cattle need a higher protein diet than less active cattle.
Beef cattle feeds that are good or recommended by experts:
Grain: Corn, barley, and wheat are all good options for grain in beef cattle feed.
Protein sources: Soybean meal, cottonseed meal, and canola meal are all good protein sources for beef cattle.
Roughage: Hay, silage, and pasture are all good roughage options for beef cattle.
Feeding beef cattle is both an art and science that includes rationing so that your cattle can get a balanced diet of all the nutrients they need every day. That should include protein, carbs, fiber, and energy. Also make sure that your beef cattle have plenty of clean water all day long.
If you want to make good beef with your beef cattle prior to slaughter, make sure that they are fed good pasture and less supplemental fodder. Pasture grass provides high roughage and vitamins that promote good cattle health.
NEVER feed dairy cattle feed to beef cattle. All the best as you feed your beef cattle with the best feed ration.
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Hi there! My name is Ben Domb, an owner of two pets and I am one of the co-founders of OurPets HQ. I have several years of experience as a pet care professional in the New England region having spent time in various roles including a stint at a veterinary hospital in Upstate New York, Syracuse area. I am a certified pet care professional and mostly spend my time researching pet nutrition and sharing my thoughts in various blogs and columns. With quarantine and COVID restrictions, I have been spending a lot of time a lot with my dogs and cat and loving it! I also run a small consulting business providing advice to parents on pet nutrition, and especially safe homemade options to try. You can reach me at email@example.com