Animal nutrition is based on knowing the nutritional requirements of livestock
being managed. Animals obtain their nutrients from the feeds they eat. The major
classes of nutrients are energy, protein, macro-minerals, micro-minerals, vitamins,
essential fats and water.
Ruminant livestock and horses can obtain most, if not all, of their nutrients from forage of adequate quality. Livestock differ in nutritional requirements based on age, activity and production status. Knowing the animal’s nutritional requirement enables us to know if the forage on hand or to be purchased will meet that requirement and what type and how much supplement is needed to meet the animal’s nutritional needs.
Forage testing enables us to know the quality of forage being produced or purchased. Fact sheets dealing with forage testing and forage quality can be found in the Forage Quality category.
The following fact sheets provide the information needed to identify the nutritional needs of livestock.
Just the basics
Grow your knowledge
- Common terms used in animal feeding and nutrition
- Nutrient requirements for beef cattle
- Nutrient requirements for sheep
- Nutrient requirements for goats
- Body condition scoring of beef cattle
- How to match the hay to the cow’s nutrient requirement based on forage testing
Master the subject
- Measurement of selective grazing in pastures
- The effect of pasture quality and supplemental feeding on calf performance when being backgrounded on pasture
- WVU-ES Beef Cattle Ration Balancer (Web application)
- WVU-ES Beef Cattle Ration Balancer (Excel spreadsheet)
- Cattle Mineral Supplement Calculator (Excel spreadsheet)
Author: Ed Rayburn, WVU Extension Specialist - Agriculture and Natural Resources
Last Reviewed: January 29, 2021