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Supplementing beef cows
David Lalman



On average, nearly 40 percent of total operating costs in cow-calf enterprises are associated with nutrition because purchased and harvested hay and concentrate feeds make up the majority of that cost. Consequently, the nutritional program represents a major target to reduce production costs.


Substitute feeding is more frequently used for growing cattle than it is for mature beef cows. The following steps provide a logical approach in identifying a supplemental need and evaluating supplement alternatives.

    • Determine the nutrient requirements for the appropriate stage of production
    • Estimate the amount of nutrients cows will receive from forage
    • Subtract item#1 from item#2 to determine if a nutrient deficiency or excess exists
    • Evaluate supplement alternatives

The article touches on nutrient requirements for cattle of various stages, average nutrient composition of various feeds and forages as well as factors influencing the formula components. The supplemental programs for common situations in Oklahoma will also be part of the topic.


The article will also discuss the considerations for supplementing low quality forage, and the priorities of supplementation. Protein sources and interval feeding will also be discussed.


The article will then move on to the using of high quality pastures to supplement low quality forage, touching on its nutritional effects.


Salt toxicities are most likely to occur where cattle have been deprived of salt for extended periods of time, and suddenly have readily available salt; cattle are forced to eat excessive salt with an inadequate water supply; when cattle are forced to drink water containing a high concentration of salt.


The article discusses the effects of high salt intake on cattle as well as salt levels adjustment.


For more of the article, please click here


Article made possible through the contribution of Oklahoma State University.

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