Cattle Ration Balancing Available Through Extension


Most cow/calf producers would agree that the most expensive part of raising a calf is the feeding costs, primarily winter feeding.  Finding the least cost combination of nutrients to maintain the cow through the winter and feed a developing calf is a challenge.  Not feeding the cow enough of the right kind of feed may still result in a calf but will decrease the chances of the cow breeding back to produce next years calf or may cause her to miss a cycle, a hidden cost to poor feeding management.  Feeding cows too much unnecessarily increases the cost of production. 

In order to balance the needs of the cow with the least cost, feed analysis should be done to gather a representative sample of each feedstuff in order to obtain an accurate balanced ration.  The results from the sample can be taken to a feed dealer or to your local Extension Agent to balance the ration.  Information that is needed includes cost of feed per unit, net energy – gain and maintenance, crude protein, dry matter, neutral detergent fiber, acid detergent fiber, soluble percentage of crude protein, non-fiber carbohydrate percentage and mineral content including calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, potassium and sulfur.  Other minerals can also be included in the analysis such as vitamins A, E and D, selenium, copper, zinc, manganese, cobalt, iodine, and iron.  Other factors can also be balanced such as the percentage of nitrate in the feed. 

Once this information is obtained from the feed, e-mail, fax or mail the information to the Extension Office and a ration can be balanced according to the weather conditions, the gestational trimester and size of the cow. 

For more information or for a balanced ration, call Ann at the Extension Office, 787-5312 or e-mail [email protected].



The programs of the MSU Extension Service are available to all people regardless of race, color, national origin, gender, religion, age, disability, political beliefs, sexual orientation, and marital or family status. Issued in furtherance of cooperative extension work in agriculture and home economics, acts of May 8 and June 30, 1914, in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Dr. Douglas Steele, Vice Provost and Director, Extension Service, Montana State University, Bozeman, MT 59717.

Montana State University Extension Service is an ADA/EO/AA/Veteran's Preference Employer and educational outreach provider.