Nutrient requirements of beef cattle

When considering feeding cattle it is important to:

  1. Establish the level of performance required (i.e. growth or maintenance).
  2. Determine the nutrient requirements the animal needs to perform at the desired level.
  3. Estimate as accurately as possible the nutritive value of the pasture and the animal’s current performance.
  4. Determine what the nutrient deficiency is and how to correct this deficiency.

For more information see Planning and managing a supplementary feeding program.

The following table provides estimates of the nutrient requirements of breeding animals at various stages of pregnancy and lactation, and in turn what feeds could be used to over come any deficiency that exists. It is provided as an example only, please contact your local cattle advisor for specific information for your situation.

You can read how these estimates were calculated in the B.NBP.0799 Final Report – Nutrient requirement tables for Nutrition EDGE manual (PDF 787 kB).

Daily requirements of Bos indicus crossbred heifers, cows and bulls, walking 7km/day, for metabolisable energy (ME), rumen degradable protein (RDP), undegraded dietary protein (UDP), calcium and phosphorus for maintenance and production

 Liveweight (kg)  Daily gain (kg) Daily requirements
 ME (MJ)  RDP/UDPA (g)  Calcium (g)  Phosphorus (g)
 Pregnant heifers – last third of pregnancy
350

400

450

0.4

0.4

0.4

62

68

74

512

564

614

20

22

23

15

16

18

 Dry pregnant mature cows – last third of pregnancy
350

350

400

400

450

450

500

500

550

550

0.0

0.4

0.0

0.4

0.0

0.4

0.0

0.4

0.0

0.4

45

58

50

64

55

70

59

75

64

80

373

496

412

532

452

579

492

623

532

665

12

20

13

22

15

23

17

25

18

26

12

15

13

16

15

18

17

20

18

21

 Lactating first-lactation cows — with calf four months old
350

400

450

0.1

0.1

0.1

96

103

108

798/145

849/128

898/112

27

28

29

19

20

22

 Lactating mature cows — with calf four months old
350

400

450

500

550

0.1

0.1

0.1

0.1

0.1

93

99

105

110

115

772/351

821/336

867/321

911/307

953/293

23

25

26

28

29

18

19

21

22

24

 Bulls
500

600

700

800

0.4

0.4

0.4

0.4

100

112

128

134

825

927

1063

1110

23

25

26

27

19

22

25

27

A Where only one value is given this is RDP and there is no UDP requirement. Source: B.NBP.0799 Final Report – Nutrient requirement tables for Nutrition EDGE manual, 2015.

The ‘B.NBP.0799 Final Report – Nutrient requirement tables for Nutrition EDGE manual’ also has estimates of:

  • Metabolisable energy requirements (MJ/day) of cattle for maintenance and growth. For example if the pasture has a metabolisable energy value of 8MJ/kg of dry matter, then for Bos indicus crossbred steers weighing 300kg and a growth rate of 0.5kg/day is desired, the requirement for energy is 57MJ/day.
  • Rumen degraded protein (RDP) and undegraded protein (UDP) requirements (g/day) of cattle for maintenance and growth. For example if the pasture has a metabolisable energy value of 7MJ/kg of dry matter, then for Bos indicus crossbred steers weighing 300kg and a growth rate of 0.5kg/day is desired, the requirement for rumen degraded protein (RDP) is 510g/day and 68g/day of undegraded protein (UDP).

For more information about Nutrition EDGE workshops please email FutureBeef or contact your local beef extension officer.

The Nutrition EDGE workshop is part of the EDGEnetwork®, an education and information initiative of Meat & Livestock Australia designed to benefit livestock producers and the wider industry. Phone 1800 023 100 or visit the EDGEnetwork website for more information.