Animal Nutrition

Properly nourished livestock are more likely to be healthy and have a higher quality of life. It is essential to choose a formulation that includes protein, a source of energy, vitamins, minerals, and amino acids. The choice of feed mixture will be influenced by the class of livestock, the season, and geography. Farmers should consult with their veterinarian and animal nutritionist to help determine the optimal formulation.

Forage and Fodder

Pasture grazing livestock is becoming more popular as demand for grass-fed meat grows. Forage is very healthy for cattle, sheep, goats, and swine. High-quality dense and lush forage is most important for young livestock building muscle, as well as livestock producing milk.

An alternative to grazing is feeding livestock pre-cut and treated roughages, like grasses, which provide soluble fiber. Farmers providing their livestock with fodder should note that some classes of livestock prefer grasses, while others prefer legumes.

Another common source of nutrients for livestock comes from silage or haylage, which are types of fermented forage with a high moisture content. Silage is a nutritious option for the winter months when livestock cannot graze, since it can be stored in silos, wrapped bales, or silage clamps.

Energy and Protein

Two main components of livestock feed are protein and an energy source. Protein is made up of chains of amino acids and helps the animal build muscle and other tissues. Energy allows the animal to move around, grow, lactate, reproduce, and more. Energy can come from grain starches, fats, oils, and the cellulose in roughages.

Vitamins and Minerals

There are several essential nutrients that livestock require to be healthy. Without these nutrients, farmers will notice major differences in animal behavior and growth. Some essential minerals for ruminants (cattle, sheep, goats) include calcium, sodium, magnesium, selenium, and phosphorus. Grazing provides most of the nutrients that livestock need, apart from minerals, so grazing animals will need to be fed a mineral additive. Grazing fresh forage offers livestock excellent sources of vitamins A, D, and E.

Feed Storage

Dry roughages like hay are normally stored in round or square bales, which should be kept dry to avoid mold growth, which can harm livestock. Silage must be wrapped or stored in a covered silo that restricts oxygen flow in order to ferment. Producers with smaller herds may want to use easy-to-access modular storage bins for dry bulk feed.