Nutrition is an essential element to successful beef and sheep systems. Cattle are ruminants, meaning they can gain essential nutrients from grass. They have a rumen, which is home to bacteria and protozoa called microbes. These microbes break down the forage and cereals eaten by livestock, including the cellulose, hemicellulose, protein and starch. In the digestive tract, there is a smaller organ, called the reticulum, an omasum and an abomasum (true stomach).
Ensuring both ruminants and monogastric animals are being offered a suitable ration for their age, growth potential, time of production cycle, time of year, etc. is very important. The feed requirement, will be specific to each class of animal, deepening on the production and growth. Three main areas to look at for feed requirement is energy, protein and minerals/vitamins.
The requirements vary largely depending on the stage they are in production e.g. growing, pre calving, etc.
Nutrition is required for maintenance of the animal, growth, fertility, milk production and health. Condition scoring animals on a regular basis is the best way to ensure the nutrition being offered is meeting their demands for the stage in production.
This Scottish Government funded project report details work involving 12 suckler herds where cow nutritional status was investigated by metabolic profiling over the 2020 calving period. Cows were blood sampled one month pre- and post-calving to identify whether energy, protein and mineral intakes were adequate. Information was also gathered on body condition score change and rations to help assess nutritional status and whether this could be linked to subsequent reproductive performance. Read more>>
In order to get the best performance from ruminants it is helpful to know the primary functions of their specialised digestive system. Firstly, there are many different species of ruminant animals including cattle, sheep, goats, deer and buffalo. Ruminants can digest forages and fibrous roughages that monogastric’s (e.g. humans, pigs and poultry) can’t. Ruminants have evolved a special system of digestion that involves microbial fermentation of food before it is then exposed to their own digestive enzymes. Read more>>
Water, energy and protein are essential for survival and performance and make up the biggest proportion of the ration. Minerals and vitamins are required in relatively small amounts. These are vital components that allow chemical reactions in the body to take place. Each has a different function within the body, such as catalysts which drive metabolic processes or components of cell division for growth. Therefore, they are a necessary part of the ration and are important for good growth, fertility, health and immunity. Read more>>
Forage crops offer an excellent solution to filling the forage gap in the autumn and winter months when grass growth slows down. They integrate well with grassland and livestock, aiding in controlling a surplus of spring and summer grass and offering a high yielding, quality feed for the autumn and winter months. Read more>>
Rotational grazing is a great tool for new entrants as well as established farmers, as it enables greater stocking densities. Those with fewer opportunities to gain more land, or using seasonal lets, can expand flock or herd size through better grassland utilisation – rotationally grazed grass is better utilised grass. Read more>>
With good nutrition, animals are healthier and more of their genetic potential can be achieved. Nutrition is the biggest driver of flock or herd performance. This practical guide will give you the key points for successful feeding, including:
- Important terms
- How to analyse feed labels
- Tests and tools
Trace elements are minerals that in small quantities are essential for the normal health and function of animals. In Britain the trace elements that may be limiting are copper, cobalt, selenium and iodine. The absence of deficiecny of these elements can result in ill-thrift or reproduction failure, however when supplied to excess poisoning can occur. Read more>>
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