Archive for January, 2011

It’s More Than Corn: Feeds

Part 5

Over the years, there have been hundreds of different products utilized as feed for livestock. Alternative feed supplies vary by region. I am only going to address some of the more “important” feeds, as based on annual usage within the United States.

Energy Feeds

Corn is the most widely used energy feed and excels in pounds of TDN produced per acre. It is very low in calcium, fair in phosphorus, deficient in vitamin B12 and must be supplemented with protein for most classes of livestock.




Sorghum is grown in semi-arid regions where corn does not grow well. It is similar to corn in its nutrient load, but is slightly higher in protein. It can be used to replace corn in rations, however, feed efficiency and gains may be decreased by as much as 10 percent. To overcome this loss, rolling or feeding as a high moisture grain is recommended. Read more…

Horse Owners To Be Required To Register With State

Legislators are proposing to impose a state registration that will “Replace brand inspection for equines with equine ownership certificate and require owners to obtain equine ownership certificates for equines that are present in state for more than 30 consecutive days.

This proposal would be onerous enough if just horse owners had to register, but no, this requires every horse to be registered.

It further establishes requirements for trailers that are used to transport horses. Many horse owners, if this is passed, will have to special order new trailers, as the specifications are not standard. Read more…

It’s More Than Corn: Importance of Physiological Phases

Part 4

This section of the series, when coupled with the previous posts, begins to layout some of the benefits to having the ability to utilize grain in the diets of livestock, particularly as an animal’s need for energy and protein increase through various stages of physiological maturity.

First Calf of 2011

How do physiological phases affect rations?

When evaluating the science of livestock production, we divide growth into several different physiological phases. All animals, including humans, are involved with at least one of the phases at all times, maintenance, but are rarely involved in more than two or three at any given time. Each phase has its own unique nutritional requirements and thus, rations are changed according to the phase and the animal’s requirements.

Maintenance Phase

Maintenance is the maintaining of an animal’s health and well-being. A maintenance ration meets an animal’s need who is not growing, not pregnant, not storing fat and not yielding a product (milk, wool, etc.). Basic maintenance requirements include energy for vital organs to function properly, maintaining body temperature, protein for body tissue repair; replace mineral loss, vitamins for maintenance and certain fatty acids.

Growth Phase

Growth is primarily an increase in muscle, bone, organs and connective tissue. It is essential during the growth phase that nutrient needs are met to insure that the animal can attain its proper mature status and size. During this phase there is an increased need for high quality protein, higher energy and a greater demand for adequate levels of minerals and vitamins. Daily growth rate increases until puberty and then decreases through maturity. Read more…

It’s More Than Corn: Minerals and Vitamins



Sample of loose minerals for supplementing rations

Minerals Samples

Part 3

Why are minerals important?

Minerals are used for a multitude of different functions in the body. While they are required in vastly different quantities, the amounts required has nothing to do with the essentiality of function performed. Quantities required range from as much as ~1.0% calcium to as little as .10ppm of selenium, depending on age and use.   Read more…

It’s More Than Corn: Digestibility and Energy

Part 2

This next section will try to help explain the components involved when formulating a ration.

What is the difference between a concentrate and roughage?

  A concentrate is any feed that is under 20% in crude fiber and over 60% total digestible nutrients (TDN), the opposite of roughage which is over 20% crude fiber and under 60% TDN. Concentrates and roughages are mixed together to create a balanced ration to meet an animal’s nutritional needs and also their energy needs, based on their use.





Indian Wheat

Concentrate (Wheat)


Meadow Hay

Roughage (Hay)










What is TDN?

TDN is a figure that indicates the relative energy value of feed to an animal and is expressed in pounds and in percent. There are four factors that affect TDN: % dry matter, digestibility of the Dry Matter, amount of mineral matter in the digestible dry matter and the amount of fat in digestible dry matter. Basically, if you take a feedstuff and subtract the water and all of the non-digestible components, what you are left with is the TDN.

Feeds are grouped based on their percentage of TDN for cattle on an as-fed-basis.

 Group A – These are pure fats, high fat feeds, and high in digestibility: soybean oil, dried whole milk, cotton seed, soybean seed, and dried bakery product to mention a few. Read more…

It’s More Than Corn: Balanced Diets & Nutrition

This is the first post in a series, to continue the discussion of grain-fed and grass-fed cattle.

Animal nutrition is like human nutrition or should I say, human nutrition should be like animal nutrition? A balanced diet keeps the body healthy and functioning properly.

Often times, through various social media and traditional media platforms, I see statements that would lead the reader to believe that cattle are just being fed corn; so I felt compelled to put together a simple post that explains what is  involved when preparing a ration for cattle. Saying that cattle are fed on corn alone makes as much sense as saying that you can be healthy by eating nothing else than meat, or living a healthy life by only eating apples. Cattle, like humans, require a balanced ration. Read more…

Force Feeding Cattle: Grass-Fed vs Grain-Fed

I was engaged in a brief conversation last week, when I received the following reply:

@JeffFowle Cows eat grass naturally.We force them 2 eat corn 2 fatten quickly.They don’t digest it well & humans don’t digest the beef well.

 This is not the first time I have seen a statement like this on Twitter, let alone other social media platforms.

 Feeding Grain

First, cattle love grain, literally. I shared two personal examples with the individual.

 Example #1: When we are bringing cattle up to the corrals, on the west side of the ranch, they break into a run as they come around the hill before entering the barnyard…in a beeline to grain tanks that we store our rations in. Despite keeping the platforms relatively clean under the tanks, there is always some remnant grain available and a mass of black bodies soon envelop the tanks, looking for a treat. It then becomes a grand “game” between the dogs and cows to evacuate the area. Read more…

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