The importance of feeding in cattle

Food, both for humans and animals, plays a fundamental role in health and well-being. Therefore, it is important to achieve an adequate level in the amount of protein, energy, nutrients and of course the water that we ingest.

When we talk about animal nutrition, we must understand that it aims to satisfy the nutritional requirements of animals, in quantity and quality, so that they can optimally achieve the productive and reproductive parameters that their genetic potential allows them, according to their species. and productive phase.

To do this, it must determine the nutritional value based on whether it is monogastric and polygastric animals (ruminants); define your needs for nutrients (protein, vitamins and minerals) and energy; and to study the biological effects and the mechanisms of action of active substances present or incorporated into food that could improve the productive parameters.

Why is it important to take care of livestock feed?

According to the study of animal feeding the ONUAA (United Nations Organization for Food and Agriculture) better known as FAO, cattle require a diet or ration with 6 basic components or nutrients that make up the food that must be supplied daily for optimal growth: water, protein, minerals, vitamins, energy, and fiber. Let’s explain them one by one.

Water and its amounts in cattle

It is one of the most important and basic components of our diet that we often lose sight of. It is essential that it is clean, fresh and that they can always have it. Water represents from half to two thirds of the body mass in the adult animal and up to 90% in the newborn. Specifically, adult cattle need around 50 l / day (10-15 l / water for every 100 kg of weight.)

  • Kind of animal
  • Water needs
  • Calves
  • 5-15 liters / day
  • Cattle (1-2 years)
  • 15-35 liters / day
  • Major cattle
  • 40-60 liters / day
  • cattle-trough-cattle
  • Proteins

Proteins are very important nutrients, since they act in all cells of the animal body and are involved in their metabolism. During the dry season there is the greatest deficiency and therefore, although the pastures have significant amounts of protein, to solve this problem high protein sources such as forage legumes can be used.

The necessary minerals

Minerals are essential and it is recommended to always have them available to animals, that is, they should be freely consumed and provide balanced mineral mixtures. To make a good quality mineral supplement; for example, 1 part of mineral premix and 2 parts of common salt are mixed and this mixture is offered for free consumption to livestock.

It should also be noted that they are key to obtaining good weight gains.


Vitamins are used in very small amounts and are found in the food eaten by livestock, in green fodder or are synthesized by the animals themselves, so it is rarely recommended to apply them. They are put to animals that consume only dry forages or animals that are sick, convalescing, malnourished or during prolonged droughts.

The energy of cattle

Energy as such is not provided, but it is essential for livestock. The correct feeding based on the previous elements mentioned makes them able to generate energy, starting with the correct amount of water needed.

The fiber

They are the most important part of the diet, both in volume and in nutrient supply. A great source of fiber is forages. They are one of the basic components for the digestion of cattle to go well; In addition, it provides protein, energy, vitamins, water and minerals.

What information should you have about your cattle?

The first thing to say is that diets are generally controlled by a specialist technician. But what you should know about your cattle are several things: have a nutritional analysis, the cost and the availability of raw materials to use; and the nutritional requirements of the animals according to their weight, growth speed, breed and physiological state.

The amount of feed that the producer must provide varies according to the system he uses. If you use a stable (free-range animals) you must give 100% of the feed, while if you use a semi-stable system, the contribution will depend on how much the cattle consume in the feeders.

It should always be borne in mind that grass is the main food of the animals, the other ingredients produce increases in the weight gain of the animals, as long as they are given the necessary amount of forage (fiber).

In addition, it is important to know that the animals will grow more or less according to the amount and proportion of food that they are given. The Cattle will grow as fast as the limiting nutrient (necessary for continued growth, but available in finite amounts) allows.

Does the feeding of cattle influence the quality of the meat?

Livestock feed and nutrition are essential for good health and meat production. In the daily ration it is necessary to provide an adequate amount of nutrients for growth, body maintenance and pregnancy. And each of these processes requires the elements that we have mentioned above and carbohydrates in the amount necessary for them to have a proper and balanced diet.

The energy level of the ration offered to the cattle affects the different aspects of the meat. So carbohydrate-rich diets increase the fat content of both the carcass covering and the amount of fat found between the muscle fibers (known as marbling). This increase in fat in the meat is related to an increase in juiciness, an improvement in the sensation of tenderness, as well as an increase in the intensity of flavor and aroma of the meat.

The two characteristics that most indicate whether there has been a good diet in cattle are marbling and tenderness and flavor.

    Marbling: it is one of the characteristics that show a good diet. It refers to intramuscular fat that appears as fine specks within the muscle. Its presence has a very positive effect on the quality of some cuts, as long as other factors, such as handling, are well controlled.

    Tenderness and taste: are dictated by a variety of elements other than nutrition including: breeding, environment, quality assurance systems on and off the farm.

According to the Australian Meat and Livestock Industry (Meat & LiveStock Australia), meat producers must manage the health and well-being of their livestock at all times. Nutrition is an important factor that influences the quality of the meat and is that, if this is not adequate, the genetic potential of the cattle will not be reached.

It should be said that feeding, along with other aspects of animal management, such as genetics and health, are fundamental links in the meat quality chain. This is also one of the key aspects that influences consumers’ meat purchasing decisions.

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