Nutrition for Your Beef Cow


Meeting your cow’s needs means understanding her life stage, how her appearance affects performance, your forage base and the Purina program that best fits your individual situation. The two most important time periods for a cow are 60-90 days before she calves and after calving, when she begins to supply the calf with the nutrition needed to grow and develop.

Sixty to ninety days before calving, her requirements increase dramatically for protein, energy and minerals. There is a virtual calf growth explosion going on inside the cow, as 65 percent to 75 percent of the calf’s growth occurs in the last 60-90 days before birth.

After calving, cow requirements continue to escalate, with a huge demand placed on the cow’s body. Why? Because milk production increases the demands for protein by 70 percent, energy by 15 percent, and phosphorus by 70 percent. If these demands for milk production are not met, the calf will not be able to express its full genetic potential for gain.

In order to choose the exact feeding program for your brood cows, you need only to determine the following:

Once you have accurately made a determination of these factors, a specific daily feeding rate can be established to maximize the performance of your cow herd.

You can choose from hand-fed 4-Square Brand Breeder Chow Products or select from the Controlled Intake Systems for breeding cattle

It is also important to feed your cattle a well-balanced mineral supplement. Purina Mills makes it easy by developing many excellent beef mineral products, which are specifically formulated for the mineral deficiencies commonly found in soils and pastures.

Choose the Product and Feeding Rate That Matches Your Forage and Cow Nutrient Requirements Determined in Steps 1, 2, and 3.

Example 1:

Before calving, your cows appear to have body condition score of 6 (Ideal). You know that most of your cows will start calving in the next 60-90 days. Your pasture is in a dormant, mature stage. What is the correct feeding rate to meet cow need? Four pounds of Purina Mills Breeder Supreme Range Cubes, 3.2 pounds of Accuration, or 3.4 pounds of Sup-R-Lix.

Remember, substantially less supplemental feed is required per head per day using Controlled Intake Systems such as Accuration and Sup-R-Lix due to: 1) energy density of the products; 2) increased grazing time and grazing distribution; 3) enhanced nutrient use because of product intake in multiple small snacks; and 4) increased forage utilization.

Example 2:

After calving on the same type of mature forage with a cow in an ideal body condition of 6, you would need 6 pounds of cubes per head per day versus 4.8 and 5.1 of Accuration or Sup-R-Lix, respectively.

Feeding rates for moderate body conditions (5) are substantially higher to meet the nutritional requirements to gain one pound/head/day prior to or after calving. The appropriate free choice Purina Mills mineral should be available at all times. Please see your Purina Mills representative for details.

Important Note: If your cows have a condition score of 4 (thin) or less, please consult with your Purina Mills dealer or representative for feeding rates.