All animals have energy and protein requirements to maintain existing bodyweight and functioning of vital organs, as well as for muscle growth and reproduction. In addition, animals have mineral requirements for skeletal development.
The primary source of energy for ruminant animals is made available from micro-organisms in the rumen that are stimulated by the animal eating roughages like grass and hay or straw. These micro-organisms produce volatile fatty acids which are a source of energy used by the animal. If the animal has free access to good quality pasture and roughage, then the ability to convert the grass into energy is normally sufficient to maintain bodyweight. However, when pasture quality is inadequate or access to pasture is limited, then requirements for energy can often not be met by pasture alone. This gap in energy requirements between what the animal requires and what is able to be converted from pasture is best met by a supplementary feed. A good supplementary pelleted feed is one that derives its energy from a combination of starch, fat and fibre. This energy source is readily converted into a form that the animal can utilise.
In young, growing animals a combination of both energy and protein is required to grow and develop vital organs as well as for muscle growth. The growth and development of muscle structure is achieved through feeding good quality protein. Although ruminant animals can acquire this protein through free access to good quality pasture, this is often not always available. When looking for a supplementary feed, look for one that uses good quality proteins to provide a balanced source of amino acids (building blocks of protein) to promote muscle growth.
All ruminant animals have requirements for macro minerals, especially calcium and phosphorous. These minerals are required for bone development and have important roles in enzyme systems that keep the vital organs functioning properly. It is extremely important that young, growing animals have suitable levels of calcium and phosphorous in their diet. The development of a proper bone frame early in life can prevent many skeletal problems that may occur when the animals get older. A complete supplementary feed should be one that contains balanced levels of calcium and phosphorous that meets the needs of growing animals. In addition, it should also contain a vitamin and mineral premix that supplies all the remaining trace minerals and vitamins that are important for animal health and provide enhanced immunity for disease prevention. It is important to note that the supplementary feed should have a very low copper level so is safe to feed to sheep, which have a low tolerance of copper.
When looking for a supplementary feed for ruminant animals on your lifestyle block be sure to look for one that encompasses all areas of protein, energy, minerals and copper levels. A good multi-purpose ruminant feed should be able to be fed to cattle, sheep, deer and goats.
A feed currently on the market that encompasses all the ruminant requirements of protein/energy levels, necessary macro minerals and a low level of copper is Multifeed, by NRM. NRM Multifeed is a specifically formulated supplementary feed for ruminants. Versatile and safe, NRM Multifeed reduces the need for separating different ruminant animals into different paddocks for feeding. NRM Multifeed is a well balanced multi-purpose feed that is able to be fed to all species of animals but is best suited to feeding to beef cattle, sheep and goats.