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Successful livestock management is dependent in large part upon meeting the nutritional needs of animals by feeding properly formulated diets. There are six basic classes of nutrients that must be considered in ration formulation: water, protein, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins and minerals.
Developing an optimal and cost-effective feeding program is critical to meet livestock performance and profitability objectives, said University of Minnesota Professor Gerald Shurson, Ph.D.
“Regardless of species, animal production is a business, and farmers need to make the most of the rations they feed,” he said. As an example, in the United States, feed represents up to 70 percent of the total cost of livestock production.
According to Purdue University’s Applied Animal Management Program, it is important to keep in mind that most ingredients in animal diets contain more than one of the six basic nutrients. However, no single feed ingredient can supply all basic nutrients an animal needs, and the nutrient needs of an animal depends upon factors such as species, age, size, lifecycle stage and more.
The needs of different livestock species also differ considerably, so expert nutritionists are critical to creating appropriate animal diets.