The Best Cattle Feed for Weight Gain  

best cattle feed for weight gain

For every 25 producers reading this blog, there will be 25 different opinions on how to manage and feed calves for the best return on investment. That’s because there is no one-size-fits-all answer. The best cattle feed for weight gain depends on various factors, including the age and breed of the cattle, their nutritional requirements, feed availability and numerous economic considerations.  

However, at BioZyme® Inc., 2 of our core values are research and innovation. We base every product we make and sell on research to ensure it does what it needs to do. And before it ever leaves our plant, it will do what we say it does. We are innovative in our thinking. If there is something that the industry needs, like feed efficiency, that is what we strive to provide. 

It is our mission to provide care that comes full circle for every animal, every day. We do that not only through innovation and research but also through inspiration and outreach. Our employees also raise and feed livestock. They are inspired to help us find better solutions, and they inspire BioZyme. 

So, what is the best cattle feed for weight gain?  Let’s explore. 

Best Cattle Feed for Weight Gain  

Here are 7 common options for cattle feed that can help promote weight gain:

1. High-Quality Forage 

Providing access to high-quality forage, such as pasture, hay or silage, is essential for promoting weight gain in cattle. Forage serves as a primary source of fiber, energy and essential nutrients, supporting healthy rumen function and overall digestion. Grazing on lush, nutritious pasture can contribute to significant weight gain in cattle, especially during the growing season. 

However, you can’t always judge a book by its cover. Be sure that you know the nutrient content of your forages, especially the hay you feed. BioZyme offers complimentary hay testing services to its customers. Hay testing lets you know exactly what nutrients are or are not in your hay so you can supplement properly.  

Once we receive and submit your hay for testing and get the results back, our nutritionist will work with you to best determine the best course of action. 

Hay isn’t the only forage you need to worry about. Lush forages in the spring can also cause problems. Chris Cassady, Ph.D., BioZyme Director of Beef Technical Sales, cautions producers to be mindful of grass tetany when pastures are lush.  

“Grass tetany occurs when high potassium and nitrogen levels in the plant interfere with magnesium absorption in the ruminant, leading to a deficiency. You can and should alleviate this by providing a high-mag mineral for at least 3 weeks before turnout on lush forage. Minerals are a tiny component of a transition diet for rebreeding, but can do big things when it comes to achieving your reproductive goals,” Cassady said. 

2. Mineral & Vitamin Supplements 

Providing access to mineral and vitamin supplements is essential for maintaining overall health and supporting optimal growth and weight gain in cattle. Ensure that cattle have access to a balanced mineral mix containing essential nutrients such as calcium, phosphorus, magnesium and trace minerals. 

Gain Smart® is a line of vitamin and mineral supplements for stocker cattle that promotes healthy, economical pounds. Gain Smart offers 4 different free-choice vitamin and mineral supplement formulas to fit any feeding scenario. All formulas consist of the following: 

  • Powered AO-Biotics® Amaferm®, a prebiotic research-proven to enhance digestibility. 
  • Include organic copper, iodine and zinc for maximum bioavailability and hoof health. 
  • Provide nutritional support for a healthy immune system. 

The 4 Gain Smart formulas for stocker cattle include:  

  1. Gain Smart Stocker, designed to maximize efficient gain. 
  1. Gain Smart Stocker Wheat, designed to maximize efficient gain on wheat or small grain pasture. 
  1. Gain Smart Stocker HEAT®, designed to maximize efficient gain when temperatures are above 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Contains HEAT technology, a combination of essential oils and garlic, to support animals when heat and insects are a challenge. 
  1. Gain Smart Stocker Balancer RU1600 maximizes efficient gain and balances high-grain diets when mixing TMR rations. It includes rumensin for improved feed efficiency. 

The Gain Smart mineral is part of a 3-step program to help producers and backgrounders increase gains and keep calves healthy. Include the VitaFerm® Cattle Drench and VitaFerm® Stress Tubs as the first 2 steps of the program on fresh-weaned or just-received calves to maximize your results. 

3. High-Energy Feeds 

Feeds high in energy, such as corn or barley, are particularly effective for promoting weight gain in cattle. These grains provide readily available carbohydrates or starch that are efficiently converted into body weight when fed appropriately.  

In many parts of cattle country, like the Midwest, corn is a somewhat affordable source of cattle feed for weight gain. However, to prevent digestive issues like acidosis, it’s essential to monitor grain intake carefully and avoid overfeeding. 

4. Concentrated Feeds 

Supplementing cattle with concentrated feeds, such as grains, protein meals and commercially formulated feeds, can help boost energy and protein intake, promote weight gain. Common concentrated feeds include corn, barley, wheat, soybean meal, cottonseed meal and commercial feed blends specifically for cattle. 

5. Protein Supplements 

Supplementing with protein-rich feeds or protein supplements can support muscle development and weight gain in cattle, especially during periods of rapid growth. Protein sources such as soybean meal, cottonseed meal, distillers’ grains and alfalfa can help meet the protein requirements of growing or finishing cattle. 

When selecting protein supplements for your cattle, consider factors such as protein content, amino acid profile, availability, cost-effectiveness, and compatibility with other feed ingredients in the ration. It’s beneficial to work with a nutritionist or livestock feed specialist to formulate balanced rations tailored to your cattle’s specific nutritional needs and growth targets. 

Soybean meal is one of the most widely used protein supplements for cattle due to its high protein content and amino acid profile. It is a byproduct of grinding soybeans after oil extraction, resulting in a concentrated protein source rich in essential amino acids. Soybean meal in cattle rations can boost protein intake and support growth and weight gain. 

Distillers’ grains are a coproduct of the ethanol production process and are commonly used as a protein supplement for cattle. They are produced from the fermentation of grains such as corn, barley, or wheat in ethanol production facilities and contain residual protein, fat, fiber, and minerals. Due to their high protein content and energy density, distillers’ grains are a valuable feed ingredient for cattle, which can help support growth and weight gain. 

6. Balanced Rations 

You would not feed your kid pancakes every day and expect him or her to grow. You also can’t feed your cattle the same single ingredient every day and expect them to perform. That is why a balanced ration is an essential component of the best cattle feed for weight gain. 

Balanced rations are necessary for promoting optimal weight gain, maximizing feed efficiency and supporting overall herd productivity and profitability. By providing cattle with a nutritionally balanced diet, producers can ensure that their animals receive the nutrients they need to thrive, grow and reach their full genetic potential. 

Work with a nutritionist, agricultural extension specialist or other trusted source to formulate balanced rations tailored to the specific nutritional needs and growth targets of your cattle. A well-balanced diet that meets cattle’s protein, energy, vitamin and mineral requirements is essential for promoting healthy weight gain and maximizing feed efficiency. 

7. Feed Additives 

Consider incorporating feed additive to your balanced ration or mineral supplement to enhance feed efficiency and promote weight gain in cattle. An additive like the research-proven prebiotic AO-Biotics® Amaferm® can improve feed conversion efficiency, increase average daily gain and optimize feed utilization, leading to improved growth performance. 

Amaferm is research-proven to increase digestibility. As a prebiotic, it stimulates the growth of beneficial gut microbes. Research shows that it increases average daily gains by one-quarter (.25) pound per day. Further studies show that Amaferm in the diet actually increased gains by more than .25 pounds per day. When you are selling cattle by the pound, every pound and every day counts! 

When selecting the best cattle feed for weight gain, it is important to consider the nutritional composition, cost-effectiveness and practical feasibility of different feed options. Additionally, regularly monitoring cattle performance, body condition, and feed intake can help evaluate the effectiveness of the feeding program. 

But you will always need a vitamin and mineral supplement. Why not have one that works with forages, rations, all grains and contains a research-proven prebiotic that increases gains and promotes health? 

More about Amaferm 

Amaferm is research-proven, with more than 111 published and/or presented research studies proving its increase in digestibility and, ultimately, its impact on the animal. Because BioZyme cares about all animals, our family of brands includes products for cattle, horses, sheep, goats, pigs, dogs and cats.  

Amaferm is the basis of our research-proven supplements at BioZyme. We want to provide the best cattle feed for weight gain. That’s why we developed Gain Smart powered by Amaferm. 

Get your Cattle Gaining the Smart Way, Today! 

Have we convinced you that Gain Smart powered by Amaferm is the best cattle feed for weight gain? We hope so! Now that you know about Gain Smart, you can get your calves gaining today. 

Gain Smart is available at one of our local BioZyme Dealers. Locate the dealer nearest you.  

Would you like to receive more information about keeping your cattle gaining healthy, efficient pounds? Sign up for our newsletter.  

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