Choosing Livestock Feed:

factors to consider



Choosing the Right Feed for Your Livestock: Factors to Consider

If you’re scrolling through your options for livestock feed, you might feel overwhelmed by all the choices. When it comes to choosing the right feed for your specific livestock mix, a few factors can help guide your decision.

What Are The Factors To Consider Before Choosing Livestock Feeds?

When deciding on animal feeds, consider these key factors:

  • Match the feed to the species, age, and purpose/goals (e.g., meat, milk, eggs). Whether feeding cows, goats, hogs, or a flock of hens, each animal has its own unique nutritional needs.
  • Account for any allergies, and sensitivities – and include preventive health supplements if needed.
  • Adapt feed choices based on local climate and housing conditions.
  • Choose the appropriate form (pelleted, mashed) and processing level for nutrient availability.
  • Confirm compliance with regulations and maintain high-quality, contaminant-free feed.
  • Align feed choices with performance goals and any special dietary requirements.

Know Your Livestock Feed Goals & Options

Before you buy any feed, it’s important to know exactly what your goals are for your livestock. Your goals will determine the types of feed or supplements needed to meet their nutritional needs and help them perform their best.

    Several feed options are widely available, each with pros and cons. Livestock feed is generally categorized into three main types:


    High-fiber feeds that are bulky and low in energy compared to other feed types. Roughages are primarily for ruminants (cattle, sheep, goats) and horses (which are non-ruminants) as they can efficiently digest fibrous plant material due to their specialized stomachs. They provide essential fiber for proper digestion and encourage gut health.

    Examples: Hay, silage, pasture grasses, straw, and crop residues.


    Low-fiber, high-energy feeds that are rich in nutrients like proteins, carbohydrates, and fats. Concentrates are used to provide the necessary energy and nutrients required for growth, production, and reproduction. They are commonly fed to supplement roughages or as a primary feed source in intensive farming systems.

    Examples: Grains, oilseeds, and grain by-products. 


    Supplements are used to address specific dietary deficiencies, enhance feed efficiency, and improve animal health and productivity. They can also support specific life stages or production goals for your animals such as lactating cows, molting chickens, and laying hens

    Examples: Mineral supplements, vitamin supplements, protein supplements, and feed additives.

      By combining these categories, livestock producers can create balanced diets that meet the specific nutritional requirements of their animals, promoting optimal health – and productivity. Consider products like Star Milling Stock Builder, Kelley’s 4-Way Mix, and Ace Hi 4-Way Mix can be fed to multiple types of livestock.

      Livestock Feeding Practices

      Different feed types provide various nutrients. Roughages are mainly used for ruminants, while non-ruminants rely more on concentrates. Both can be supplemented with specific nutrients to meet their dietary needs.

      • Non-Ruminants: These are animals with a single-compartment stomach. Good examples are pigs and poultry which primarily rely on concentrates as their main feed source, though they can also consume small amounts of forage.
      • Ruminants: An animal that has more than one stomach and that swallows food and then brings it back up again to continue chewing it. Examples include cattle, sheep, and goats which mainly consume roughage but may also be fed moderate amounts of concentrates like Ace Hi Goat Feed, Kelley’s Alpine Goat Feed, and Ace Hi Dairy Feed.

      Monitor Your Results

      Monitor how your feed choices are affecting your livestock’s health and performance. Keep an eye on factors like weight gain, milk production, egg production, feed consumption, body condition, stool quality, blood test results, and any signs of illness. 

      Regularly tracking these factors will help you understand the health of your livestock.

      Stay in Touch with Your Vet

      For any questions about your animal’s specific nutritional needs or daily feeding amounts, always consult your vet. They know your animal’s weight, condition, and medical history, making them the best resource for personalized advice.

      Final Thoughts

      Choosing the best feed for your livestock isn’t something you can do on a whim. It takes thoughtful planning, research, and careful evaluation to find the best feed for your animals’ unique needs and your specific goals.

      Your animals depend on you to keep them healthy and happy, so choosing the right feed is a big responsibility. In keeping this information in mind, you can make educated decisions that will benefit your animals – and your business.

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