Grassfed Animal Nutrition

October 14, 2013

 

Producing top quality 100% grassfed beef requires good management skills and a very multidimensional approach which constantly considers economics, forage and livestock genetics, animal health, and grass performance. All of these factors are heavily influenced by soil health and mineral nutrition, since soil health influences the health of the forages, which in turn heavily influence the health and growth rate of livestock.

 

One of the challenges in producing without any grain inputs is providing an adequate energy source. Most forages are much lower in energy than what is optimal, which restricts the amount of energy cattle can consume in any given day, limiting their growth potential.

 

This challenge is especially prevalent during the spring lush green up period when forages have high levels of soluble amino acids and nitrogen, and lower levels of fiber and energy.

 

Producing high energy forages is simply a function of increasing the photosynthetic capacity of the plant leaf to enable it to form more sugars. As overall plant health and energy increases, plants begin to store their surplus energy in the form of lipids, plant fats, exactly the same as an animal would. As the fat content of the forages increases, plants have a great deal more energy content which is utilized by the livestock.

 

These fats and lipids are the foundation for having higher levels of Omega 3 essential fatty acids and CLA in grassfed beef, all while providing a strong energy source enabling cattle to perform to their full capacity. Cattle need a minimum baseline level of energy to function, just to maintain body heat and vital functions. As forage energy levels build above the baseline, cattle efficiency and performance increases dramatically. In our field experience many forages contain as low as 2% fat content on a dry matter basis. Once forages reach a 6% fat content the need for grain to build a balanced ration goes away completely, and as fat content approaches greater levels cattle lose their desire for grain.

 

This level of plant fat production can be accomplished by addressing soil biology and mineral nutrition, while being sure to enhance forage photosynthetic capacity and health immediately with high quality plant nutritional supplements.

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