Feeding and Watering Your Beef Cattle
Part of the Raising Beef Cattle For Dummies Cheat Sheet
One of the main things you can do to keep your beef cattle healthy and content is to properly take care of their dietary needs. Here are some tips for tending to all four of your bovine's stomachs:
When adding or removing feeds from your animal's diet, gradually make the change over a week or so. An abrupt switch in feedstuffs can harm the helpful bacteria in the digestive tract and cause an unsafe change in a bovine's digestive juice pH.
Be prepared for big appetites. Beef cattle can consume up to 3 percent of their body weight a day in dry feed.
Provide your beef cattle with forage to keep their digestive systems functioning correctly. You can meet your animal's forage requirements by letting them graze pasture or feeding them dried, harvested hay.
Use concentrates to supplement forages as needed. Supplements are particularly useful during times of drought, to help market cattle put on fat, or to meet the nutritional needs of a lactating and ovulating young cow. Concentrates like the grains of corn, oats, wheat, and barley are good sources of energy for your cattle. Soybean and cottonseed meal supply both energy and protein.
Add minerals and vitamins to your beef cattle's diet to keep them healthy and productive. You can mix these nutrients with the other feed you provide your cattle, or you can serve it up in a free-choice feeder for animals on pasture.
Always make sure your beef cattle have access to a clean, fresh, and plentiful supply of water. Beef cattle drink a lot. During a hot summer day, for example, a mother cow with a nursing calf can consume nearly 18 gallons of water.
Provide only wholesome feedstuffs. Don't feed your beef cattle any grain or hay that's musty, moldy, or soiled by animal feces.