When seeking advice from a nutritionist, livestock producers should know what to ask

It sometimes takes a village to run a successful farm, and one of the many resources available to farmers and ranchers is a livestock nutritionist.

A good livestock nutritionist can aid producers in creating a balanced diet for their valuable animals to ensure optimal performance. Area Extension offices or consultant services can help producers get in touch with a qualified livestock nutritionist.

To make the most out of the appointment, it’s important to ask a few explicit questions to help create an ideal feeding program.

Are You Local?

This might seem like an irrelevant question as it is not directly related to what livestock should be eating, but the nutritional needs of animals will vary from place to place.

For example, counties in the Ozarks tend to have a selenium deficiency in the soil, so the livestock in the Ozarks need to make up for this in their diet; other areas don’t have this problem. According to AgGrad, geography is an important aspect that a cattle nutritionist must keep in mind. Therefore, a livestock nutritionist familiar with the area can help producers develop the best possible feeding program.

What’s Missing from My Current Feeding Program?

A nutritionist will help producers pinpoint the exact balance of minerals, protein, energy, etc., needed based on a number of factors, including the type of livestock, the geographical location, and the animal’s current diet.

Through investigating forage test results, feed ingredients, and any recent management issues, nutritionists can determine what’s missing.

“To determine what is missing, compare the total daily nutrients being provided to the total daily nutrients needed,” advised Dr. Shane Gadberry, professor of ruminant nutrition at the University of Arkansas. “From this, one knows what appears to be coming up short – protein, energy, minerals, vitamins. It may also reveal what may be excessive too. This information helps determine what supplements are needed.”

The nutritionist should be on top of where there have been issues this past breeding season due to forage quality. The nutritionist can also dissect the mineral program, looking for ways to improve that aspect.

The possibilities for inspection continue from there, with the diets fed to the cows through the whole year. This helps the producer/nutritionist team craft a feeding program that can change with the needs of the stock at critical production periods.

Can You Assist Me in Creating a Feed Budget?

A new feeding program gets producers nowhere if they can’t afford it.

A qualified nutritionist will aid producers in determining the cost of the needed feedstuffs and create a budget to keep spending in check.

How Should I Store My Feed?

There are many different types of feed and supplements, many will store different from the others.

A nutritionist can offer suggestions on how to store feed for maximum longevity and quality.


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