Protein is an essential nutrient in animal feed. Animals need protein and other minerals for tissue and organ formation. And protein is also important in animal feed for their growth. An animal with the right amount of protein and other minerals in the feed tends to stay energetic and active all day. And animals with protein deficiency show signs like lowered appetite, weight loss, poor growth, and reduction in production.
The protein level depends on the quality of grass and the age of the animal, which is why protein supplements should be included in animal feed. An animal that is provided with protein supplements tends to stay healthy and productive.
Animals get various nutrients from the forages. However, the nutrients they get from forage may not meet the nutrient requirement, which is why supplements should be provided to keep animals healthy. Including protein supplement in animal feed is essential for the health of animals and productivity as well as profitability.
Protein from forages
The composition of nutrients in forage typically depends upon the soil nutrients and footage maturity. Though you allow animals to gaze for a longer time, they may not get sufficient nutrients. Especially there is a chance that they will lack protein in the diet.
However, the level of protein in forage is not the same throughout the year. During the cold season, forage tends to have a high level of crude protein, and during summer, it may have a lower level of crude protein. Crude protein is comprised of protein and nonprotein nitrogen. And this can be another reason to include protein supplement in animal feed.
Crude protein also decreases when the forage becomes mature and decrease in nitrogen fertilizer rates. During summer, insufficient protein can be a problem as grasses receive inadequate nitrogen fertilizer, and forages are harvested after being mature. And in the rainy season, water can leach nitrogen from the soil and reduce the level of nitrogen, which is essential for producing protein in forage.
So, in the summer and rainy season, you should focus more on the animal diet. Including supplements with a high level of protein, minerals, and vitamins in animal feed is important to keep them healthy.
Protein requirement in animal feed
Protein requirements vary from animal to animal. Some may need protein in large quantities, and others may need protein in less quantity. To know the exact amount of protein requirement, you can consult with a local vet. Visiting a vet regularly helps you understand the nutrient requirements of the animal and help you with the right method of raising cattle.
Cattle protein requirements depend on the animal’s production stage, size, age of the animal, and expected production. Examining cattle before giving them the right amount of protein is an excellent way to raise cattle. The local vet can give you an idea about the nutrient requirement for each cattle. Some animals need feed supplement with high protein, and some may need feed with high mineral and vitamins. As each animal has different requirements, it better to consult a vet before providing a feed supplement to the animal.
During lactation, larger cattle will need more pounds of crude protein per day than a smaller one. In other words, cattle with lightweight require a higher quality of feed and forages, and cattle that have heavyweight need more feed and forages. The requirement of crude protein increases with increasing lactation, which is why you need to ensure that cattle get enough protein through the feed.
You can distinguish which animal needs more feed and supplement by looking at their weight. However, you have to get a vet to know if any of your animals have protein deficiency or any other nutrient deficiency so that you can provide them feed accordingly.
Young and growing animals require more crude protein in their feed to support muscle growth. You need to ensure that forage for nursing calves should have at least 15% crude protein.
Many types of protein supplements are available in the market. High-quality forages, commodity co-product feedstuffs, protein blocks, and liquid supplements are some examples of supplements. You may provide any of these supplements depending upon the requirement and recommendation from the vet.
You can provide protein supplement by mixing it with animal feed or give them directly as feed. Some protein supplements have to be provided by mixing with animal feed, and some can be provided directly to the animal. However, in the beginning, some animal farmers prefer to mix protein supplement in feed just to make cattle use to it. After cattle get used to protein supplements, you may provide them without mixing with feed.
Protein blocks and liquid supplements have adequate protein and often meet protein requirements. These supplements are perfect for lactating cattle and young cattle. Along with protein supplements, a lactating animal needs an energy supplement, and their body condition has to be monitor. Similar to a protein supplement, you can also mix the energy supplement in animal feed.
But, remember to talk to an expert or vet before providing a supplement to an animal. Talking with an expert always helps.
Instead of buying protein supplements, you can include vegetative legumes and cool-season forages in animal feed. Soybean meal, cottonseed meal, whole cottonseed, corn gluten feed, dried distillers grains, and brewer grains are effective protein supplements. Cottonseed meal and soybean meal have a higher protein ratio, so these supplements serve best for lactating and young cattle.
Common protein sources
If you cannot afford branded protein supplements, you can use leftovers and plants as a protein supplement.
Oilcake is a great source of protein. Their protein content is very high and is affordable. Sunflower meal, rapeseed meal, and copra meal are an example of oilcake. You can get oilcake from the oil industry.
Breweries production by-product
Dry distiller’s grain, brewer’s grain, and maize gluten feed are a good source of protein. They are also affordable, and you can get them from a brewing company.
Local shrub pods
Local shrub pods such as camel thorn pods, sickle bush pods, and Prosopis pods are excellent protein sources.
Leaves and straws
Cassava leaves, legumes, and groundnut straw contain higher protein content than cereal. If there aren’t any oil industry or brewing companies in your area, you can simply give cattle these leaves to increase the protein level in their body.