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Cattle Nutrition: Five of the Most Important Nutrients For Your Cattle

Cattle Nutrition: Five of the Most Important Nutrients For Your Cattle

Cattle nutrition is an important quality that determines their reproductive performance and overall well-being. This is why in this article, we highlighted five of the most important nutrients for your cattle’s diet.

Now, there are five key nutrients that should be present in whatever diet plan you choose for your cattle. This is to ensure that the cattle get all the important nutrients that support their growth, performance and general health status.

These nutrients are:

  • Water
  • Protein
  • Energy
  • Vitamins
  • Minerals



Dietary experts spend so much time discussing absorbable nutrients, minerals, and various fractions of protein. However, we often overlook the most important nutrient, the one needed in the most quantity by any class of livestock, water.

Water is the most important nutrient for cattle as it accounts for nearly 50-80 percent of your animal’s live weight and all animals need water. Water is required to transport nutrients through the blood, maintain cellular structure, regulate temperature, and so much more.

For your livestock to maximize feed intake and production, they need daily access to palatable water of acceptable quality and quantity. It is also a good relief for the animals in conditions of stress.

Insufficient water intake lowers cattle performance more dangerously than any other nutrient deficiency. Dehydration in cattle severely weakens the ability of the respiratory organs to resist and expel disease-causing organisms. Also, the hearing and sight of the cattle are adversely affected when in a dehydrated state.

You can help your livestock can meet their daily water requirement by making them drink water, and consuming feed high in water content.


Protein is needed for digestion, growth, reproduction, and lactation of cattle. It is a component of muscles, the nervous system, and connective tissue.

Protein is essential in your cattle’s diet to supply the compounds needed for microbial growth and to provide the amino acids needed for digestion from the small intestine. Insufficient protein intake can inhibit the animal’s rate of digestion

Cattle need proteins because they are important building blocks of all the major tissues and organs. The major role of proteins in animal nutrition is for the growth and regeneration of tissues.

Young, growing cattle, as well as those in late pregnancy or lactation, may have increased protein requirements. Extra protein can be provided by feeds that are high in RUP, like alfalfa dehydrated pellets, distillers’ grain, or substitute feeds like legumes.

Putting up good quality feed for the herd is key to cattle nutrition and maximizing production on your livestock.


Energy provides the cattle’s body with the ability to do work. Work includes growth, lactation, reproduction, movement, and feed digestion. Energy is the nutrient required by cattle in the greatest amount. It usually accounts for the largest proportion of feed costs.

Of course, energy is important in cattle nutrition, to maintain their core body functions, and to ensure that they meet their activity requirements. Energy makes up the largest proportion of feed costs and is the most required nutrient for cattle besides water. Energy is typically gotten from cereal grains, and by-products like whole cottonseed.

The components of feed that determine its energy content include carbohydrates and fats.
Energy deficiency caused by low intake or poor feed quality will limit growth, decrease milk production, reduce body condition, and (depending on timing and duration) may have negative consequences for reproduction.


Vitamins aid many vital metabolic activities in cattle. They are biological compounds that are required in very small amounts. The age and production status of the animal will impact vitamin requirements.

Key vitamins in cattle nutrition include Vitamin A, Vitamin D, Vitamin E, and Vitamin K. Vitamins A, D, E, and K are fat-soluble and are stored in the animal’s fat tissue and liver. Hence, they do not need to be supplemented daily if the herd has adequate reserve.

These vitamins are present in feed sources and are responsible for key metabolic processes within the animal, and thus are important to monitor to ensure deficiencies do not develop. Fresh leafy forage is a good source of Vitamins A, D and E however, drought, forage processing, and extended storage periods can reduce nutrient levels.

Vitamin A is essential for normal growth, reproduction, and maintenance. Insufficient Vitamin A is associated with lowered fertility in both bulls and cows. Vitamin D is required for the proper development of bone. Vitamin D deficiency in calves results in bowing of the leg bones (rickets). In older animals, bones become weak and easily fractured. Vitamin E, along with selenium, is required for proper development of muscle tissue. Lack of Vitamin E and/or selenium causes nutritional muscular dystrophy, commonly called white muscle disease.

It is most common in young calves. Prevention of white muscle disease may be achieved by injecting calves with Vitamin E/selenium at birth, injecting pregnant cows with Vitamin E/selenium, or feeding cows supplementary Vitamin E and selenium.


A range of minerals is necessary for good rumen function, animal health, and the overall welfare of the herd. About 17 minerals are required by cattle for a well-rounded diet and they are divided into two groups: macro-minerals and trace minerals. Macro-minerals are needed in relatively large proportions for bodily functions, while trace minerals are needed in much smaller quantities.

The macro minerals required by cattle are Potassium (K), sodium (Na), chlorine (Cl), sulphur (S) calcium (Ca), magnesium (Mg), and phosphorus (P). Macro-minerals are required in amounts over 100 parts per million (ppm) and are often expressed on a percent (%) dry matter (DM) basis of the animal’s diet.

Cattle require ten micro-minerals, also referred to as trace minerals. These trace minerals, required in relatively small amounts are usually expressed as mg/kg, rather than as a percentage of the diet. They are manganese (Mn), selenium (Se), zinc (Zn) chromium (Cr), cobalt (Co), copper (Cu), iodine (I), and iron (Fe).

Minerals are important in cattle nutrition for these functions:

  • milk production (includes Ca and P)
  • energy, growth, immunity, and reproduction (includes P, Cu, Zn, Mn, Se)
  • nervous system function and carbohydrate metabolism (Mg, K, Na, Cl, S, Co, I, Fe)skeletal development, bone, tooth formation, and maintenance (includes Ca, P, Mg, Cr)

Would you like to know more about cattle nutrition? Then send an email to us at, we will be glad to answer all your questions.

However, if you would like to take advantage of our 25% EMBER GOATS DISCOUNT, click here to order wholesome and Vet-certified goat meat (ram & cow inclusive) or call 09062903550 now.

If you made it to the end of this article, you would definitely love to read “6 Important Things You Need To Know Before Your Cow Gives Birth” here.

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