Feed is important to livestock. However, it is not the feed that is most important to animals, but the overall nutritional composition of the feed given to them. It is these nutrients that animals utilize for good performance. This is why farmers should feed their animals with nutrients-rich feeds to get the optimum performance from their animals.
The nutrients needed by livestock are classed below:
- Carbohydrate (for needed energy in body activities)
- Fats and fatty acids (for energy and normal body functioning)
- Protein and amino acid (for bodybuilding, growth, maintenance and reproduction)
- Minerals (for growth, maintenance, and reproduction)
- Vitamins (for normal body and cell functioning)
Some feeds or feed ingredients contain some or all these nutrients but are in different quantities. That is why the proximate analysis of feeds or feed ingredients must be done before the formulation of a ration is carried out. You can have the analysis done in any nutrition laboratory or through the help of a nutritionist. There are also levels of inclusion at which these ingredients must be included which varies with different animal species, so as to avoid wastage of resources and causing damage to the animals’ health.
Feeding of animals is necessary, but there are some things that need to be considered, and they determine the quantity of feed taken by the animals. These must be known so as to avoid wastage or shortage of available feeds. Some various things must be considered before a farmer serving feeds to animals.
- Climatic/weather condition: The condition of the climate or weather determines the feed intake by animals. In hot weather, they take less of feed and drink more of water and vice-versa during cold weather.
- State of health: A sick animal will always have less or no appetite for feed than a healthy animal.
- Nature of the feed: Animals have more interest in pelleted feeds than fined or powdered feeds. They take more of the pelleted feeds. Palatability of feed must be noted because, the more palatable the feed, the more the feed intake.
- Availability of water: Water must be available ad libitum (always) for animals before and after giving feeds to them. Animals will take enough feed when they have sufficient water to drink during and after feeding.
- The physiological state of the animals: The physiological state of an animal will determine the quantity of feed it’s going to consume. For instance, an animal that is nursing young ones would consume more feed than those that are not. Likewise, a dairy cow that is being milked regularly would consume more feed and water than those who are dry.
The points above should be noted by livestock farmers before the quantity of feed to be given to their animals is determined. The principle of livestock feeding and nutrition must be understood and applied in any livestock farms. To get the best from your animals, it is required of you to give them nutritious feed and adequate water. It is when your animals are ‘happy’ with the feed you give them that they will reciprocate by performing well.