Best Cattle Feed Review – Top Rated Models in 2021 with Buying Guide
In case you are looking for the best cattle feed, you have a lot of research to do. Still, you are in luck as we’ve decided to help you out. After reading a lot about this topic, our team has concluded that the option you should definitely consider is the Purina Waggin’ Train Crossroad. First of all, you can use it for the maintenance of adult horses and of beef cattle on pasture but also for growing goats and sheep. It is a supplement that should be fed along quality hay or pasture with the appropriate vitamin and mineral supplement according to each animal’s requirements. This product is a grain and pellet mix that contains proteins, fibers, fats and a variety of minerals and vitamins. In case you find this product unavailable, or you are looking for something else, our second choice is the Land O’Lakes Purina Stocker.
You can feed this to your beef cattle on pasture, adult horses, and growing sheep and goats. It is a mix of grains and pellets that contain many fibers, proteins, fats, as well as a variety of vitamins and minerals. This is a supplement that must be fed along with high-quality pasture or hay with the suitable mineral and vitamin supplements appropriate for each type of animals.
In case you were looking for a complete feed, you should be searching for a different product as this is just a supplement.
Keep your farm animals healthy, strong and happy with this rich supplement.
In case you are looking for an economical feed with consistent nutrition, this product is a great choice. It is a 14% all-vegetable protein source. Moreover, this stocker grower is also a great option for farmers who want to feed their cattle only vegetable proteins. The formula of this supplement contains Vitamin A, calcium, trace minerals, and added phosphorus salt.
Since this is not a complete feed, you should use this supplement with the appropriate food for each type of animals you have.
If you need a vegetable protein source for your cattle, this is the one for you.
Also To Consider
If your animals are too skinny and need to gain more weight, this product might be what you are looking for. You can mix this supplement with feeds for cattle, horses, swine, sheep, and poultry, and it will stimulate their appetite. The sweet molasses flavor is easily accepted by most animals. Since it is not liquid molasses, you will not have to deal with any sticky mess.
Compared to other similar products, this is not a cheap option. Still, it seems to be easily accepted by animals, and the buyers are pleased.
This product is a great source of energy both for mixing and for individual feeding.
10 Best Cattle Feeds (Reviews) in 2021
When there are so many products on the market, it is very hard to select just one. Since we are talking about cattle feed, there is always the risk of your animals not to like your choice. Based on customer reviews and farmers’ opinions, we managed to compile a list with the top-rated products which might make things easier for you.
- 1. Purina Animal Nutrition Cross Road Sweet Feed Textured
- 2. Land O’Lakes Purina Feed 50LB Stocker Grower
- 3. Ridley Dried Molasses
- 4. Adm Animal Nutrition 81680AAAC4 Stock Sweet Feed
- 5. Ridley All Stock Block
- 6. Best Dairy Goat Feed Non-GMO with Organic Fertrell Vitamins and Minerals
- 7. Manna Pro Calf Care Pet Nursing Supply
- 8. Prairie Pride Medicated De-wormer and Feed Pellets for Cattle
- 9. Barenbrug Stockmaster25 Tall Fescue Pasture Seed Forage Mixture for Livestock
- 10. Thunder Acres Premium Alfalfa Hay
- Yearly Guide & Report
- Frequently asked questions
1. Purina Animal Nutrition Cross Road Sweet Feed Textured
If you are searching for good cattle feed, the first product on our list can be used for the maintenance of adult horses and that of beef cattle on pasture, as well as for growing sheep and goats. This product should be fed along with good quality pasture or hay, and it should be administered with the proper mineral and vitamin supplement appropriate for each species.
The Waggin’ Train Crossroad is a grain and pellet mix containing proteins, fats, fibers, as well as a variety of vitamins and minerals. It is very important to keep in mind that this is a supplement and not a complete feed, so you should keep a constant supply of high-quality pasture or hay available for your animals at all times.
It is recommended to store this product in a dry and well-ventilated area. Also, it is essential to feed it to your animals according to the directions provided.
This product can be used for raising adult horses, beef cattle on pasture, and growing sheep and goats, basically for pretty much all animals from your farm.
It is a grain and pellet mix that contains fibers, proteins, fats, and a variety of minerals and vitamins.
The manufacturer recommends storing this product in a dry and well-ventilated area.
This product comes with detailed instructions and it is very important to follow them accordingly, in order to keep your cattle growing healthy.
The mix is ideal for a diverse cattle farm as you can feed it to a variety of animals.
You should keep in mind that this is not a complete feed, and it should be fed together with good quality hay or pasture.
Also, this product should be administered with the appropriate vitamins and minerals according to each species’ nutritional requirements.Buy from Amazon.com
2. Land O’Lakes Purina Feed 50LB Stocker Grower
If you are looking for cheap cattle feed, the next product on our list is a good choice. Not only that, but it is a 14% all-vegetable protein source. This item can be used by producers who choose to feed their cattle only vegetable proteins.
This product contains a balanced formula which includes calcium, Vitamin A, trace minerals, and phosphorus added salt. By feeding this supplement to your animals, you will provide essential nutrients which support a healthy immune system and maximize muscle instead of fat in young cattle.
You can also use this product as a supplemental source of protein or energy for beef cattle which are on forage diets. It also supports low-quality forage intake and utilization.
Buyers who decided to switch to this supplement in their creep feeders have noticed a very big, positive difference in their calves. It is a great protein and energy supplement developed to balance nutrient deficiencies in the spring and summer forages.
According to buyers, this stocker grower is the most economical feed with consistent nutrition and gains.
Moreover, it comes in a good uniform shape for easy bunk feeding, and there is never a piece left since they are so tasty.
This product is a 14% all-vegetable protein source, and it is an excellent option for producers who want to feed their cattle only vegetable proteins.
The formula for this stocker grower includes calcium, Vitamin A, phosphorus added salt, and trace minerals.
The controlled creep feeding encourages lean growth for calves that are developing heifers and bulls, helping build skeleton and muscle, not fat.
It is very important to take into consideration that this is not a complete feed. You need to know the nutritional requirements of each species and feed them accordingly.
Although most buyers consider this product very economical, there are others who feel it is a bit expensive.Buy from Amazon.com
3. Ridley Dried Molasses
In case you are having issues with very skinny members of your farm, a good cattle feed can be dried molasses which can make them want to eat more. Our next choice has a sweet molasses flavor that can be added to silage and roughage in order to make them taste better as well as stimulate the appetite.
The Ridley Dried Molasses is an excellent option for enhanced growth and for better productivity from your cattle. Moreover, you can use this supplement and mix it with feeds for cattle, but also for horses, sheep, poultry, and swine.
The free-flowing granules are a great source of energy for mixing and for individual feeding also. According to buyers, this product is appreciated due to the fact that it is easy to measure and feed it to the animals without the sticky mess produced by liquid molasses.
This supplement is ideal for animals that need to gain more weight because it stimulates their appetite.
It is not a liquid cattle feed, so it is easy to measure and you will not have to deal with the sticky mess generated by liquid molasses.
The supplement can be used by mixing it with feeds not only for your cattle but for horses, poultry, swine, or sheep.
The sweet molasses flavor is appreciated by most animals, so it will be very easy for you to mix it with their food in order to enhance their growth and obtain better productivity from them.
These free-flowing granules are an excellent source of energy both for mixing and for individual feeding.
When it comes to these types of products, this supplement is not the cheapest option. Still, it is very much appreciated both by buyers and their cattle.Buy from Amazon.com
4. Adm Animal Nutrition 81680AAAC4 Stock Sweet Feed
If you are having issues with skinny animals, you need to fill the feed bins for cattle with something that will stimulate their appetite. The next product on our list is an all stock sweet feed. This means that it will work not only for your cattle, but for your horses, goats, and sheep as well.
The ADM ANIMAL NUTRITION Stock Sweet Feed is sealed in a 50 lb pellet bag and it is made of high-quality ingredients. This product provides basic nutrition for a variety of livestock species, which is a great advantage. You can use it without creating any mess, and it also stays fresh for longer than other similar feed.
Different from other traditional sweet feed, this supplement does not dry out. It is a palatable, fortified, and cold-pelleted feed, which is an excellent source of protein, fat, and fibers. It is recommended being fed with good quality forage.
You can use this 50 lb sweet feed for the animals at your farm that need to gain weight, as it stimulates their appetite.
It is suitable for cattle, horses, sheep, and goats, and it comes as pellets made from high-quality ingredients.
This supplement provides a maximum of 20% fiber, 12% protein, and 2% fat, and it should be fed with high-quality forage.
Compared to other similar feed, this one stays fresh for a longer period, which is a great advantage.
Unlike traditional sweet feed, you can use this product without creating any mess, and it will not dry out.
This is a tasty, fortified, and cold-pelleted feed that you can use as a supplement for most of your livestock.
This is a highly appreciated product among farmers, but it seems that there are animals who do not like it so much.Buy from Amazon.com
5. Ridley All Stock Block
The next candidate on our products list is manufactured in the United States and it is a self-fed supplement that is suitable for cattle, horses, goats, and sheep on forage and pasture diets. It comes in a 33 lb bag, and it is an excellent source of protein in a proportion of 20%.
Furthermore, the Ridley All Stock Block is also fortified with trace minerals and vitamins. Since it does not contain any added copper, it is safe for sheep as well.
For less experienced cattle owners, it is very important to understand that this is not a complete feed but a supplement that should be fed along with the suitable feed in accordance with each species’ nutritional requirements.
Many customers have trouble getting copper-safe supplements locally, so they are very pleased with this high-protein block, which is a favorite among sheep as well.
One of the greatest advantages to this product is the fact that it can be fed to cattle, horses, and goats.
Since it does not contain any added copper, it is safe to use for sheep as well.
This supplement contains 20% protein, and it is also fortified with various vitamins and trace minerals for healthy development and fast growth.
Apparently, there are places where it is very hard to get copper-free products for sheep, so customers are very happy with this option, which is also appreciated by the animals.
This is not the most expensive option on the market, but if you compare it to similar products, it is not the cheapest either. Therefore, the price is not the most attractive feature.
Since it is a supplement and not a complete feed, it should be provided along the appropriate forage or pasture diet, depending on each animal’s nutritional requirements.Buy from Amazon.com
6. Best Dairy Goat Feed Non-GMO with Organic Fertrell Vitamins and Minerals
If you are looking for dry feed for cattle, the next product is ideal for dairy goat feed as it was developed with all-natural Fertrell Nutri-balancer. It is a great choice for the health of growing and lactating goats. You should know that this feed is available for dairy cows as well.
Since copper is included in the formula, it should not be fed to sheep. For these animals, the manufacturer also produces supplements that are appropriate for this category. The H and H Feed Dairy Goat Best Feed is a combination of a sustainable and healthy variety of grains, seeds, and protein sources.
Since the ingredients are combined with the Fertrell, it will offer your goats a well-rounded supplemental ration they will definitely thrive on. Moreover, this product does not contain corn or soy. Using this supplement will not only make your goats more productive, but you will also notice their coats becoming very shiny.
If you want your goats to eat less and produce more milk, you should try these very nutritious pellets.
This supplement is intended for dairy goats, but you can also use it successfully for your dairy cows.
The formula used for this supplement includes a healthy variety of protein sources, seeds, and non-GMO grains, as well as an all-natural Fertrell Nutri-balancer for growing and lactating goats.
Furthermore, this product does not contain any soy or corn, and it will provide your goats with a well-rounded supplemental ration for healthy development.
In case you are looking for a supplement you can use for all of your farm animals, you should think of another option as this one is not recommended for sheep since the formula includes copper.
Some customers consider that this product is too expensive for the small quantity of a bag.Buy from Amazon.com
7. Manna Pro Calf Care Pet Nursing Supply
The liquid cattle feed tanks may cost you some money, but what you put in them is more important if you want your cattle to maintain healthy and productive. The next product on our list is formulated to support gut health and digestion.
It includes Probiotics and you can mix it into the milk replacer or use it as a top-dressing on dry feed. The Manna Pro Calf Care Pet Nursing Supply offers supportive nutrition for calves.
The high-quality proteins used in this product provide a wide range of essential amino acids and your calves will grow healthy, and they will experience a better muscle development. Moreover, digestible carbohydrates are an excellent source of energy and a great solution for weight gain.
Furthermore, the Anise provide this supplement a sweet smelling taste and aroma that your animals will enjoy. In addition, the Linseed Meal adds luster and sheen to your animal’s coat.
This product is specially developed to support digestion and gut health for your calves.
It is formulated with Probiotics and you can feed it by mixing it into the milk replacer or you can top-dress on dry feed.
A wide array of essential amino acids are provided by the high-quality proteins used in the formula which help in growth and muscle development.
As a great source of energy, digestible carbohydrates have been added to the formula which is an excellent solution for weight gain as well.
Thanks to the Anise, this supplement has a sweet taste which your animals will surely enjoy, and their coats will be shinier due to the Linseed Meal that is also included.
If you compare this supplement with similar products, you might notice that it is not the cheapest option. Still, it seems to be appreciated by both buyers and their calves.Buy from Amazon.com
8. Prairie Pride Medicated De-wormer and Feed Pellets for Cattle
Besides the usual beef cattle feed you use, sometimes you may need to use various supplements, either for a better development or for various issues your cattle may be facing. Sometimes, they might encounter intestinal worms, and it is an issue that must be dealt with.
The SG PRAIRIE PRIDE Medicated De-wormer can be used for both horses and cattle. The product comes in the form of feed pellets, so it is easy to administer. It is medically formulated to stop large and small strongyles, pinworms, and ascarids. Moreover, this supplement contains a safeguard called fenbendazole for deworming horses, including pregnant mares and foals.
This is a very effective way to treat digestive parasite issues, as the product can be used as a feed and deworm in a single step. It is also available in two sizes. As a side note, to avoid other issues, you should maintain the cattle feed bunks as clean as possible.
This product is a great choice since it can be used as both a feed and a dewormer in one step, which is very effective and time-saving.
It can be used for cattle as well as for horses, including foals and pregnant mares because of the safeguard used in the mix, called fenbendazole.
The supplement is specially formulated to combat digestive parasites such as large strongyles, small strongyles, ascarids, and pinworms.
It is also easy to administer because it comes as feed pellets and it is usually very well accepted by the animals.
This product is made in the United States and you can find it available in bags of two sizes, namely 1.3 and 5 pounds.
Although this supplement is generally appreciated by buyers and accepted by animals, there have been cases when cattle or horses did not want to eat it.Buy from Amazon.com
9. Barenbrug Stockmaster25 Tall Fescue Pasture Seed Forage Mixture for Livestock
Beef cattle feed rations are very important, but so is the quality of the feed. The next product on our list is a multi-purpose, dependable forage mixture. It is an ideal digestible and palatable pasture mixture that is suitable for cattle, goats, sheep, horses, alpacas, and llamas.
The Barenbrug 12151 Stockmaster25 is specially formulated with improved types of endophyte-free perennial ryegrass, orchard grass, and Tall Fescue. Perennial ryegrass roots fast, it performs very well in foraging condition, and it is highly digestible and appetizing.
The use of Tall Fescue is characterized by persistence, winter hardiness, a high level of tolerance to drought and it represents an excellent source of digestible fibers. The Orchard grass is highly digestible and palatable, and it provides high-quality feed in the summer months.
The Barenbrug Stockmaster is also suitable for high-moisture cutting as well as for hay production. This product is adapted to the temperate regions of the United States.
The product is rather a feed provider than an actual cattle feed, and it contains improved varieties of Orchard grass, endophyte-free perennial ryegrass, and Tall Fescue.
It is a multi-use item, as it is persistent and suited for high-moisture cutting and for hay production.
Since it is adapted to the temperate areas of the United States, it can be planted in early spring or early fall, and it can be established through full cultivation, no-till, or even broadcast cultivation.
The mixture used in this product is highly palatable and digestible, and it is ideal for cattle, horses, sheep, goats, llamas, and alpacas.
The Orchard grass provides quality feed in the summer period, the Perennial ryegrass roots fast and performs very well in foraging conditions, and the Tall Fescue is an excellent source of fibers.
This product is not an actual cattle feed, but it is worth using it for your animals.Buy from Amazon.com
10. Thunder Acres Premium Alfalfa Hay
Alfalfa, also called Lucerne is a perennial flowering plant. It is also cultivated as an important forage crop in numerous countries of the world. It can be used for hay, silage, or grazing, but also as green manure and cover crop. The Premium Alfalfa Hay from Thunder Acres is an all-natural product, free of additives and preservatives and it is grown in Kansas.
It is an excellent snack for animals of all sizes from rabbits to horses. Consuming Alfalfa hay has many benefits for the animals’ health. For example, eating alfalfa seeds helps lower cholesterol and bad low-density lipoprotein cholesterol. Also, it can help combat kidney and bladder issues, but other affections such as asthma, diabetes, and digestive problems as well.
With this product, you will be offering your animals a high-quality and nutritious treat. Still, it is important to remember not to overfeed them. It is also recommended to remove any wet or soiled hay from the pack.
You can use this product as a great treat for all your farm animals starting from the little ones, like bunnies, to the large ones, like cattle and horses.
This is an all-natural product, free of preservatives and additives, and it is grown in Kansas.
Many buyers confirm that the hay is green and fresh with some dried flowers, and it even smells like tea when you open the bag.
Not only will you be offering your animals a nutritious, high-quality treat, but also a healthy one.
Alfalfa has numerous health benefits like lowering bad cholesterol and combating digestive, kidney, bladder, and other issues.
There were some complaints from buyers who said that they found more sticks in the bag and fewer leaves.
Other customers mentioned that what they got in the pack was mostly brown and yellow and that they found a lot of sticks, thorns, and twigs.Buy from Amazon.com
Yearly Guide & Report
When it comes to cattle feed, there are so many things to take into consideration. Starting from the cattle type, to the area they live in, and the number of animals, there are important aspects to think about if you want your cattle to grow up nicely.
What is very important to know is that what you feed your cattle directly affects the quality of the meat or the milk and consequently, the price on the market when it comes to selling the products.
A substantial plan for feeding your cattle takes into account the nutritional needs, availability of feed, and costs and it can improve your farm profits by improving the quality of your final product.
Type of feeds
There are many different cattle feeding production systems and each comes with its advantages and disadvantages. Most cattle in the United States have a diet that is composed of at least some type of forage such as grass, vegetables, or silage.
Actually, most beef cattle are raised on pasture from their birth in the spring and until autumn, which means seven to nine months. For pasture-fed animals, the grass is the forage that composes most of their diet.
Cattle which are fattened in feedlots are usually fed small amounts of hay that is supplemented with soy, grain, and other ingredients in order to enhance the energy density of the diet.
There is a debate on whether cattle should be fed primarily with pasture, or they should have diets concentrated on grain, corn, soy, and other cattle feed supplements. The truth is that the issue is also complicated by the political interests and there is a confusion between labels such as organic, natural, or free-range.
Cattle raised on a forage diet are called grass-fed or pasture-raised. Still, the term pasture-raised can lead to the confusion with the name free-range which doesn’t describe exactly what the animals actually eat.
Assessing your cattle
In order to settle on the appropriate diet for your cattle, you also need to analyze their productivity status. Cattle are generally divided into five distinct classes, which are based on three common types of intended production: meat, lactation, or breeding.
These three types determine a variety of factors, including when the cattle need to gain weight. You ought to differentiate your cows based on the following types as well as specific conditions.
In the case of the lactating cows, you should consider how long they have been delivering milk, how many times they have produced milk in their lifetime, the quantity of milk they provide, pregnancy status, and the expected birth weight of offspring also.
When it comes to dry or non-lactating cows, you need to think about whether she is bred or not and how many months her pregnancy is. The same consideration goes in the case of bred heifers.
Regarding feeders and replacements, you should know that feeding cattle for slaughter involves two groups of cattle: the ones that are backgrounded and the ones that are finished. It is essential to take into consideration the weight of the targeted slaughter and the targeted grade, marbling, as well as yield at slaughter.
With the herd bulls, all the already mentioned information is necessary, except the details regarding pregnancy, lactation, or carcass evaluation.
Another important aspect when setting the dietary plan of your cattle is the breed and type you are raising. Breeding plays an essential role in planning feed rations. To get a better idea, dairy cattle have higher maintenance necessities than beef cattle, so they need to be considered differently.
The most common dairy cattle breeds include Holstein, Brown Swiss, and Jersey. Simmentals and Fleckvieh are included with dairy. Beef cattle, excepting the last two mentioned breeds, are generally lumped into three categories: British-type, Continental, and Exotics.
The British breeds include Shorthorn, Angus, and Hereford. These are typically your range cattle and have lower maintenance requirements. They are also considered better converters of feed into muscle or milk.
Charolais and Limousin are Continental breeds and require more supplementation in protein and energy when on grass-only or roughage diet. In case the grass or hay quality is poor, both breeds require more supplementation to thrive.
The Exotics include breeds such as Nellore, Santa Gertrudis, Sahiwal, and composites like Bradford and Brangus. The first three are linked separately because they require higher maintenance than other types.
As you might have noticed, there is a lot of information you need to learn if you are planning of setting a cattle farm. Besides the aspects we covered in this short guide, there are more things to consider.
Although the most common types of cattle feed include hay, grain such as oats, wheat, rye, or barley, straw or chaff, salt, milk, fats and oils, vitamin or mineral supplements, and by-products like alfalfa pellets or soybean meal, you need to know exactly what you can feed your cattle and in what rations.
Frequently asked questions
Q: How do cows digest food?
Although there are many animals with digestive processes similar to that of humans, a cow’s digestive system is quite different. As they eat hard-to-digest cellulose from hay, grass, and other plant materials, cows need to cope with these elements.
Therefore, they have large stomachs with four compartments. The largest one is called the rumen which contains millions of microscopic organisms that live and also die inside the animal. Their purpose is to break down plant matter, as well as to release nutrients that cows can digest. The lack of these organisms would cause the cow to starve.
Q: How many pounds of food does an adult cow eat?
It is interesting to know that an average dairy cow can eat over 100 pounds of feed daily. Most adult cows will consume about 120 pounds per day when they are at peak milk production. If you think in yearly terms, this means that a cow can eat around 18 tons of feed each year.
Dairy cows do a great job transforming feed into the energy they need for milk production and maintenance. The main factor that determines how much a cow will eat is its milk production. A milking cow will consume more feed than one that is not milking.
Q: How much food do cows eat per day?
There are a few factors which affect the dry matter intake of cows. They include physiological, environmental, dietary, and management factors. An adult cow will normally eat between 1.4% and 4% of its body weight daily, but this depends on the quality of feed. For example, a cow will eat around 1.8% and 2% of its body weight of dry, low-quality feed.
When it comes to dry, average-quality feed, the animal will consume between 2% and 2.2% of its body weight. Things change with dry, high-quality feed, as a grown-up cow will eat around 2.2% and 2.5%, and even 2.7% of its body weight during lactation.
Q: How do bacteria help cows digest their food?
Did you know that the rumen of a single cow contains more organisms that there are people on Earth? Among these, half of them are bacteria which do a large part of the digestive work. Different bacteria have different jobs to do – some of them break down carbohydrates and proteins that are then used by others. Some help to clean the rumen of the waste products generated by others in order for the rumen not to become toxic.
The process of some bacteria using the products of others is called cross-feeding. The bacteria population is constantly being renewed, as it dies and carried through the digestive tract.
Q: How much grain to feed a cow per day?
Grain may be fed to cows in situations where forage is short on supply, unavailable, or costly, as it can partially replace roughage. For several reasons, it is recommended to substitute grain for only a portion of the roughage. For example, some roughage is necessary for cow diets in order for the rumen to function well.
Under cold conditions, it is advisable to feed a minimum of 3/4 to one pound of hay per 100 pounds of body weight along with the grain being fed. Also, heavy grain feeding can be appropriate when higher rates of grain are necessary in order to recondition thin cows, as it can be one of the best cattle feed for weight gain.
Q: How many cows will a round bale feed?
This is a question that can only be answered after taking into consideration all the factors below. First of all, the amount of hay depends on the bale’s size and density which can vary considerably and usually ranges between 9 and 12 pounds per cubic foot. The density is also affected by the type of forage, adjustment of the baler as well as the skill of the baler operator.
Round bale use unavoidably results in storage and feeding losses as well. Of course, hay loss depends on storage and feeding management. Last but not least, it is essential to consider the quantity of crude protein and energy delivered to the cow.
Q: What to feed a lactating cow?
If you want a healthy and productive cow, the rations you are feeding should have a balance of quality, quantity, amounts of concentrates, proteins, vitamins, and minerals. Examples of appropriate feed include Lucerne, Napier grass, Boma Rhodes, as well as sweet potato vines. Napier grass is better intercropped with desmodium, harvested and fed together.
After calving, a dairy cow should be maintained with around 3 kg of concentrates or dairy meal per day. When the number of beneficial bacteria increases, there is a subsequent development of microbial protein. This, combined with increased net energy, results in high milk production.
Q: How much alfalfa to feed a dairy cow?
Alfalfa provides a valuable combination of yield and crude protein. There is no other forage that can consistently deliver 20% crude protein while yielding 3 to 5 tons of dry matter per acre under vigorous agronomic management. Specialists recommend effective inclusion levels to range between 25% and 75% of the forage fraction of dairy diets.
Alfalfa contains a high percentage of soluble protein and rumen-degradable protein, compared to other forages and protein sources. This fact contributes to an increased proportion of RDP. It is important to know that the rumen-degradable protein can vary depending on crop maturity as well as storage. Cutting Alfalfa at earlier maturity results in higher RDP levels.
Q: Why do we feed cows corn?
Corn is lower in protein and a bit higher in energy, compared with other feed grains. Corn contains about 72% starch on a dry-matter basis. Other essential fractions in the corn seed include fibers, proteins, and minerals. Most research on the matter indicates a substantial advantage in implementing rumen-degradable protein in diets that contain corn.
Finishing or backgrounding diets which contain high levels of corn require supplemental RDP in the form of nonprotein nitrogen (urea or biuret): natural protein sources like canola, soybean meal, or sunflower meal, or a combination of nonprotein nitrogen and natural protein.