Managing Nutrition at All Stages of Life

While we know nutrition is key for the well-being for humans and animals, it has a large significance in the life of a cow. Dr. Kevin Dill, director of dairy technical innovation for Purina, says cattle nutrition is not a one-size-fits-all model. 

The starting point for ensuring proper nutrition is the creating nutrient requirement lists. These lists serve as a basis for creating ration models. Ration models are crucial for delivering the right balance of nutrients to the animals.

“The producer’s role in fine-tuning the amount of nutrients consumed by the animals is essential. It involves managing on-farm practices, facilities, as well as interactions to guarantee optimal nutrition,” says Dill. “Producers often provide nutritionists with weekly data on dry matter intake at different life stages, allowing for adjustments and improvements in the cattle’s nutrition.”

Reproductive performance is another critical factor in cattle management. The well-being and productivity of cattle, including factors like lactation, are closely linked to their reproductive health. Proper nutrition is essential in providing the necessary energy sources, including fiber, starch, and fats, to support reproductive success.

Dill adds, “The importance of nutrition extends beyond the diet itself. Factors like overcrowding, inadequate bunk space, and limited water access can impact the animal’s ability to consume the necessary nutrients, even if the diet is nutritionally balanced.”

Proper nutrition throughout a cow’s life not only prevents diseases but also offers substantial economic benefits. Well-nourished cattle produce more milk, experience fewer calving difficulties, and maintain better overall health. Investing in the right nutrition can lead to long-term cost savings, as healthier cattle are more productive and require less veterinary care.