Saturday, March 2, 2024

Ways to Fatten Ruminant Animals Faster for Profits

Most times, Ruminant farmers ask questions like: is there any drug that one can give ruminant animals for them to develop faster?

Hmm! Well the truth of the matter is that I will not like to recommend muscle building drugs for your animals because it also has a lot of side effects.

Rather, to fatten up your ruminant animals, they need well concentrated feeds, regular deworming and adequate disease prevention and treatment. Am sure that if all of these are in place, your ruminant animals will be free of diseases and the feed being consumed by them will be converted to muscle on time.

There are also certain vitamins to aid muscle build up without exposing the animals to certain side effects. These vitamins can be gotten and given to your animals at the recommendation of your consultant.

Fattening of Ruminants

The production of beef meat presents multiple models: fattening calves, bull, heifers, or culled cattle.
Even if each one presents its specificities, two elements are essential:

  • ensuring a quality of the meats, in particular through the absence of antibiotic residues;
  • ensuring the sustainability of the fattening workshop (breeders incomes, food and energy efficiency).

During the fattening, the optimization of performances (Feed conversion Ratio, Daily Weight Gain) should increase breeders’ incomes, but also limit the resources (kg of feed/kg of carcass).

On ruminants, rumen fermentations transform feed ration and fibers to energy (VFA) and microbial proteins, however to fatten ruminant rich and concentrated ration, usually used, have high-speed fermentations and this may lead in:

  • problems of acidose;
  • an under-valuation of the protein (degradation of dietary amino acids).

An action on the rumen gut flora can reduce these troubles associated.
The metabolism of the animal, and mainly the liver system, will transform nutrients for muscle growth. Thus, the metabolism functioning (protein turnover, stress responses, metabolic yields):

  • explain more than 35% of feed efficiency losses in beef;
  • is optimized with an adapted micro-nutrition and a strengthening of the antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-stress condition.

Read Also: How to treat Ruminant Animal Diseases

Four Steps for Optimizing the Performance of Cattle Fattening or Cow Fattening

Ways to Fatten Ruminant Animals Faster

In beef cattle fattening farms, techno-economic performance optimization is imperative for reaching profitability, whether  in farrow-to-finish or fattening farms.

The practical application of this goal requires a 4-step approach: consideration of the desired final outputs, analysis of the current situation, customized dietary program and final validation the solutions implemented.

1. Consideration of the targeted markets

Whether in farrow-to-finish farms or fattening ones, farmers must take into account the type of products required by their target markets to set up their productions goals:  weanlings, calves aged less than 12 months, young calves aged 14 to 16 months…

Prior knowledge of the commercial targets allows for the determination of objectives concerning weight, average daily gain (ADG), fat cover, color of meat, etc.

This will help them to decide the type of diet to implement (dry diet, semi-dry diet, wet diet), the dietary levels needed and the most appropriate feeding program to apply.

2. Analysis of the current situation

Achieving these goals requires a good overview and a thorough understanding of the current farming systems in use. At this point, undertaking a practical audit of the farm will help to identify the areas for improvement from a technical and economic point of view.

In addition, performance modellings allowed by management tools are usually used in farrow to finish farms, and the teachings of market data (purchase price for calves, selling price of young bulls, the feeding program cost, etc.) will allow to determine profit margins.

3. Elaboration of a customized dietary program

A specific dietary program based on the farm’s technical and economic optimum can then be set up. This program should include the following:

  • optimisation of livestock resources: forages, feeds, additive minerals, raw materials and co-products available;
  • consideration of animals’ growth potential: ADG (Average Daily Gain) potential, growth curve
  • turn-over of young calves’
  • margin targets.

All these objectives are designed to choose the most suitable routes from a techno-economic standpoint. Data related to the desired objectives and the specificities of each farm can then be entered into an economic optimization software. This software will then allow to calculate the required nutritional needs thereby suggesting the most suitable feeding program.

How can one find the best-fitting program? An overall knowledge of the nutritional values of the resources held in the farm (forages, raw material) and consideration of production targets will help to determine the extent to which these resources can be used in the diet, as well as the most suitable feed supplements to use.

These feed supplements will help compensate for the diet’s identified deficiencies and limitations in terms of energy profiles, nitrogen, fibrous mineral of the basic diet).

Upon designing the diet, the consideration of certain criteria will contribute to a more accurate management of the respective fattening phases: adaptation / start / growth / finishing. The other benefit of such precautions is that digestive upsets that are likely to occur at this stage will be more controlled and hence better prevented.

An unsuitable feeding program could result in underperformances and digestive disorders (acidosis, enterotoxemia), with often heavy consequences: inefficient utilization of diets, lower daily weight gain for beef cattle, decreased performance, lameness, death.

Furthermore, the incorporation of additive solutions in the diet can enhance the benefits of nutrients so they can be assumed to their full potential. To this end, some additive solutions can guarantee a secure optimisation of young calves’ growth. 

The action mode of these solutions consists of orientating ruminal fermentations to produce propionic acid ; propionic acid has a favorable effect on muscle growth. Since they also contribute to contain methane emissions, these solutions also limit energy waste.

Read Also: How to Identify the Particular Disease Affecting your Ruminant Animals

4. Final stage: application of solutions implemented

A final comparison between the diet that has actually been fed and their ensuing weight gain will provide an accurate techno-economic evaluation of the recently implemented program. This evaluation will help to determine areas for improvement with regard to rearing conditions and the appropriate feeding methods to apply.

Feed for Ruminant Animals

Ruminant animals are designed to eat forages. They can meet all of their energy needs to grow, reproduce and stay healthy with feed that consist of 100% good quality roughage (alfalfa, grass-hay or good pasture).

However, supplementation during certain periods (late gestation and lactation or for special projects like 4-H and FAA.) with concentrates (whole corn, barley, wheat, oats or other high carbohydrate feeds) may be in order.

Ruminant animals. have a stomach that is composed of four compartmentsreticulum, rumen, omasum and abomasum. The rumen serves as a large fermentation vat in which bacteria and protozoa actually digest the cellulose (otherwise known as fiber) in the forage which mammals can not do.

The ruminant adds saliva to this material as it chews and swallows and then rechews when it later regurgitates (belches up) this material. This process is called rumination. (People say the animal is chewing its cud.)

The purpose of the saliva is to add bicarbonate molecules to the rumen which helps control the acidity of the fermentation that goes on in the rumen. Once the fiber is partially digested and the particle size of the material is right, the feed goes through the other stomachs including the abomesum, which is actually the true stomach, just like the stomach of other mammals.

There are two types of forages commonly fed to ruminants; legumes and grasses. Alfalfa, clovers, peas and beans are all legumes. These plants provide quite a bit more protein than other grasses and plants. Thus, for hay, at least, alfalfa is preferred because it is considered to be a higher quality feed.

Protein is especially important in growing animals since protein can be likened to bricks, building blocks used to build tissue and bone. When purchasing feeds, protein content usually determines price. Even so alfalfa hay is generally the cheapest source of protein.

The only draw back to the protein in alfalfa is that it is not readily available to the young ruminant which really isn’t a ruminant at all until it develops the rumen organisms it needs to digest cellulose. For the calf, this would be about 6-7 months of age, for the kid and lamb it would be 60-90 days of age.

Milk protein (100% digestible) is definitely the highest quality of protein that can be fed to young stock, and soy protein becomes beneficial as the youngster gets a little older, 60 days for calves, 30 days for the smaller ruminants.

TDN which stands for total digestible nutrients is a measure of the energy present in the feed and is particularly important when trying to fatten animals or late in pregnancy as it protects against “ketosis” and “pregnancy toxemia,”- higher the value the better.

Energy can be likened to gasoline. It runs the heart, lungs, brain, legs, etc. When the amount of energy is greater than the needs of the body, it is stored as fat.

Thus, energy and protein need to be balanced according to the individual. A growing animal, a pregnant animal or a lactating animal all need more protein than an adult who has weaned her offspring and isn’t pregnant.

A working animal (cutting horse, breeding bull or sheep dog) all need a lot of energy. And of course, show animals and feedlot animals which should be fat, need a lot of energy.

Most forages, including alfalfa hay, have TDNs of around 50-55%. Grains and seeds on the other hand tend to have TDNs of 75-85%. Thus, when a high energy diet is required, one of the grains, often corn, is added to the diet.

Read Also: Signs and Diseases Ruminant Animals (Livestocks) get from Feeds and Water

The major problem feeding grains are their propensity for producing acid when fermented by the rumen organisms. When the amount of grain is relatively small, the bicarbonate in the saliva will buffer the acid produced and all is well.

However, if the animal is suddenly exposed to a lot of grain all at once, the acid produced will overwhelm the buffering capacity of the saliva and the animal becomes sick or acidotic.

This is a serious condition requiring veterinary help and has killed many an animal. However, grain can be increased by small increments over time and the rumen organisms will adapt and not produce so much acid.

Other nutrients besides protein and energy, (there are a total of 5) that need consideration are minerals, vitamins and water. Minerals are divided into macro minerals which are measured in grams or ozs and microminerals, measured in parts per million (ppm).

Calcium (Ca) and phosphorus (P) are macrominerals and are very important for the production of bone and milk. Alfalfa hay has a calcium content of 1.4% but only 0.23%. phosphorus so it is a good supplier of calcium. Grains, on the other hand, have calcium contents of 0.1% while the phosphorus content is 0.4%. So, grains are better suppliers of P.

For the best utilization of both calcium and phosphorus the over all Ca:P ratio should be 2.5 to 1. Keeping these minerals balanced can prevent urolithiasis (stones) in steers, bulls, wethers, rams and bucks.

A good trace mineral salt generally supplies all of the needed microminerals although microminerals needs differ according to the species of animals. Almost all animals need more copper than sheep.

It is very easy to give sheep too much copper. Make sure that there is no added copper in a trace mineral salt that is going to be fed to sheep.

All animals need selenium. Selenium is deficient in many parts of the country. In those cases animal owners should make sure there is at least 90 ppm of selenium in the mix.

Two important vitamin needs are Vitamin A and Vitamin D. Vitamin A is essential for keeping the skin, hooves and interior body linings in good repair. It is needed in larger amounts by young growing animals, lactating and pregnant animals.

It can be supplied by any nice green forage and green leafy hay that was put up within the last year. Vitamin A is stored in the liver and animals on pasture during the summer usually store enough to make it through the winter, even if feed is low in vitamin A.

Vitamin D is needed for the absorption of calcium and phosphorus from the intestine and for the building and repair of bones. The action of sunlight on the skin of animals can convert certain compounds in the skin into vitamin D. During the summer when animals are outside in the sun, they will make all the vitamin D they need.

When animals are kept inside most of the time, or they live in rainy cloudy conditions (western Oregon for example), vitamin D should be supplemented. Nice green leafy hay that has been sun cured is also high in vitamin D.

Vitamin E and selenium are co-workers. Together they are important in the production of immunity against diseases, certain enzymes and the integrity of muscle and red blood cells. Deficiencies of these two cause poor growth, poor health and in severe cases, white muscle disease.

Vitamin E is also high in green leafy plants and hays, but is not stored in the body. If poor quality hay is being used during the winter, vitamin E should be supplemented.

Water makes up the fifth essential nutrient. Adequate clean water should always be available. Ruminants require large amounts of water daily to keep the contents of their rumens in a liquid phase. Otherwise, the bacteria can not optimally mix with the feed.

As a matter of fact, when water is restricted, ruminants will restrict the amount of dry matter they take in. Thus, feed efficiency and gain will be markedly affected. Lack of water also encourages the formation of bladder stones in the male.

Alfalfa and corn make up the most common ruminant diets, although any forage and any grain can be substituted depending on availability and price. Field or dent corn: is commonly fed whole to small ruminant as they are more apt to chew their feed than cattle.

Cattle which tend to swallow their food whole, do not digest whole grain well and they pass through in the manure. Yellow dent corn is dried in the field, creating a “dent” at the top of the kernel. About 90% of it is used for animal feed as it has a very thick outer skin that doesn’t soften much even if you cook it for hours.

Bovatec, a coccidiostat, limestone to supply calcium, vitamin A, D, or E, thiamine, minerals, salt, bicarbonate, antibloat compounds, antibiotics or other supplementation may also be included in diets depending on the ratio of forage to grain and the current disease problems being experience by the animals.

Cost is a factor in making a farming operation profitable. Grain prices as of 01/12/2006
Whole Corn Cost is $7.80 per 100 lbs.
Cracked Corn Cost is $17.98 per 100 lbs.
4 Way-Mix with Rolled Corn Cost is $16.38 per 100 lbs.

The following table shows the dramatic nutritional difference between 1 cup of WHOLE GRAIN yellow cornmeal and 1 cup of degermed yellow corn meal.

WHOLE GRAIN Provide 100% – 300% More Food Value.
NutrientWhole GrainGrain Degermed
Iron4.2 mg1.5 mg
Magnesium155 mg55.2 mg
Phosphorus294 mg116 mg
Potassium350 mg224 mg
Zinc2.2 mg1 mg
Copper0.2 mg0.1 mg
Manganese0.6 mg0.2 mg
Selenium19 mcg11 mcg
Thiamin0.5 mg0.2 mg
Riboflavin0.3 mg0.1 mg
Niacin4.4 mg1.4 mg
Vitamin E0.5 mg0.2 mg
Feed Cost
per 100 lbs.
Adjusted for
Feed Value
Real Cost
of Feed
Nutrient Source: USDA Nutrient Data Laboratory
Feed Prices 01/12/2006: Zamzows, Boise, ID and WSI, Caldwell, ID
Read Also: How to Ascertain the Quality of the Feed and Water to be served to the Ruminant Animals
Obviously for the small ruminants the best buy is whole corn but for cattle who would not digest it, the 4-way mix would probably be the better choice.


All true grains have the same basic structure. The fruit tissue, or seed coat, consists of a layer of epidermis and several thin inner layers, which together are a few cells thick. Underneath the seed coat, one to four cells thick, is the aleurone layer. Loaded with fiber, minerals, oil, phytonutrients, protein and vitamins, these layers are collectively referred to as bran.

Bran surrounds the endosperm, which stores most of the protein and carbohydrate, and makes up most of the kernel’s volume. Against the endosperm is the scutellum, which absorbs, digests and transfers food from the endosperm to the embryo, or germ, found at the base of the grain. The germ, the grain’s smallest part, contains the most nutrition as a concentrated source of B vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients and vitamin E. Whole yellow corn is also an excellent source of vitamin A. Whole yellow corn contain carotene, one of the yellow pigments, which is converted into vitamin A by the ruminant animals.

Cylinder mills grind grains with rigid or smooth pairs of cylinders that rotate at high speed. Grains are forced between the cylinders which grind and tear the kernels instantly.

In the grinding process, a great deal of heat is generated. cylinder mills heat grains to 150 degrees F While a Stone Mill can grind grains at temperatures below 90 degrees F.

At just 119 degrees F, most of the healthful live enzymes in the meal and flour are eliminated. At higher temperatures, many of the nutrients in the meal are destroyed. In addition, cylinder milling overexpose meal to air. This causes oxidization, which leads to the rancidity of oils in the grains.

The most widely used flour mills in operation today, are even hotter and faster than cylinder mills. High velocity steel hammer heads smash and powder whole grains at ultra-high speed. This method destroys more nutrients.

Read Also: Guide on How to Produce Fumigation Process

Do you have any question, suggestion or other contributions? kindly use the comment box provided below for all your contributions. You are also encouraged to please kindly share this article with others you feel can benefit from this information if found useful enough as we may not be able to reach everyone at the same time. Thank you so much for sharing!


Benadine Nonye is an agricultural consultant and a writer with over 12 years of professional experience in the agriculture industry. - National Diploma in Agricultural Technology - Bachelor's Degree in Agricultural Science - Master's Degree in Science Education... Visit My Websites On: 1. - Your Comprehensive Practical Agricultural Knowledge and Farmer’s Guide Website! 2. - For Effective Environmental Management through Proper Waste Management and Recycling Practices! Join Me On: Twitter: @benadinenonye - Instagram: benadinenonye - LinkedIn: benadinenonye - YouTube: Agric4Profits TV and Agric4Kids TV - Pinterest: BenadineNonye4u - Facebook: BenadineNonye

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