Important Factors to Consider When Selecting a Cattle Feed Ratio

cattle feed ration

There are many things to consider when selecting a cattle feed ration. These factors include: Balanced rations, Dry matter/moisture content, Crude protein, and Ingredients. Knowing what each of these parameters means is critical to the feeding process. Below are some general guidelines to consider when selecting a ration. Read on to learn more about the ingredients in a ration and how to make a proper choice.

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Balanced rations

Developing balanced cattle feed rations can be a challenging task, especially during the Saskatchewan winter months. Feeding cattle in Saskatchewan is complicated by variables such as frame size, body condition, feed types, and air temperature. Overfeeding or underfeeding can waste feed and affect breeding herd performance. For help determining the right balance of feeds and nutrients, a computer program called Cowbytes(r) Ration Balancing software can be helpful. It uses prediction equations based on the National Research Council to determine a balanced diet.

A balanced feed ration contains the right amounts of the essential nutrients an animal needs to grow and stay healthy. During the coldest winter months, energy levels should be increased in the ration. For every five degrees Celsius of coldness, increase the energy component by one lb. per head and cow. Supplements that contain vitamins and minerals can also be added to the ration. These supplements are beneficial during winter because they prevent the cows from getting too hot or cold.

Ingredients in a ration

To evaluate the nutritional value of a cattle feed ration, check the TDN. This measurement reflects the total amount of protein, lipid, and carbohydrate in a feedstuff. Fiber is important because it provides energy for ruminant digestion. Not all fiber is equal – rice hulls are a poor source of ration fiber while soybean hulls are highly digestible. Fiber helps maintain healthy rumen microbes.

To calculate the crude protein content, divide the percentage of the fescue and shelled corn by the ration’s total weight. In general, the ratio of the two components is greater than three. For example, fescue makes up 58% of the ration, while shelled corn makes up 42%. The crude protein content of the ration is 11.4%, so the ration should contain at least that much crude protein to meet the animal’s nutritional needs.

Dry matter/moisture content

If you’re a producer of beef and dairy cattle, you likely know that determining the dry matter content of cattle feed is an important consideration. Not only is it necessary to meet minimum animal protein and energy requirements, but it also ensures that your cattle are getting proper nutrition. There are a number of options available for routine on-farm DM determination. Understanding this important metric will help you maintain your feeding program.

There are many methods available to measure moisture levels. The gold standard is the laboratory measurement. Typical variations of moisture content are 1.5 percentage points. The moisture content of a ration is 70% forage. The difference in moisture content of one feed from another is due to its physical and chemical properties. While the two parameters are closely related, the moisture content of a feed can change rapidly. A global model has been developed to calculate the moisture content of total mixed ration feeds. This system is used to determine the moisture content of feed samples in real time.

Crude protein

When choosing a cattle feed ration, it is important to know how much protein is in it. The protein content of a feed ration is expressed as crude protein. Crude protein is calculated by multiplying the nitrogen content by 6.25. Typically, protein has a nitrogen content of 16% or higher. Crude protein can be easily calculated if you know the percentage of the different ingredients in the ration.

The amount of crude protein in a cattle feed ration is measured by determining the nitrogen content of the feed. Since protein contains around 16 percent nitrogen, it is important to determine the proportion of the nitrogen content that is true protein. It is also important to note that some nitrogen is nonprotein nitrogen (NPN). Nonprotein nitrogen is converted to protein by rumen microbes during rumination. Therefore, the majority of the crude protein in a cattle feed ration should come from the actual sources of protein.


Beef cattle feed rations usually lack vitamin B. B vitamins are manufactured by rumen microbes, which make them available to the animal. However, vitamin B is particularly important for young calves because the rumen is not yet functional. Furthermore, stressed cattle may have low rumen microbe population, so supplemental B vitamins may be beneficial for these animals. The amount of vitamin B in the cattle feed ration varies greatly depending on the type of cattle and the feeding regime.

Generally, a moderately priced mineral-vitamin mix containing calcium, phosphorous, magnesium, selenium, zinc, manganese, and vitamin A and E is recommended. Supplementation of these elements should be given on a daily or weekly basis, based on the animal’s requirements. The correct dosage should be calculated by using a gram/head/day label. While supplementation is not necessary for cattle that graze on diverse green forages, it is advisable to provide adequate amounts of vitamins in the cattle feed ration to guard against deficiencies.


Cattle have a low requirement for salt, requiring about 1 oz. per head per day, but voluntary intake usually exceeds the minimum requirements. Although there are practical limits to the amount of salt cattle should eat, salt can help reduce the intake of highly palatable feeds. This fact sheet explains how to formulate salt-limited supplements. A cattle feed ration should contain 0.05% to 0.010 percent salt per pound of body weight.

Excess salt in cattle rations may increase the risk of Udder oedema, a condition commonly associated with cows during calving. In addition, salt inhibits the growth of udder tissue. This condition is a result of high levels of salt in the rumen and the rectum. The solution is to put a block of salt on the pasture. This block contains approximately 20 kg of salt.