Raising a steer can be a rewarding experience, but it also requires dedication and knowledge. The right diet is key to keeping your steer healthy and happy. Grain is an important component of your steer’s diet and determines their growth, overall health and meat quality. In this article, we will provide you with essential tips on how much grain you should feed your steer each day for optimum health.
Understanding the Nutritional Needs of Your Steer
Before deciding on how much grain to feed your steer, it is important to understand their nutritional needs. Steers require a balanced diet that includes protein, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, and minerals. A well-balanced diet promotes healthy muscle and bone development, good digestion, and overall well-being.
Protein is essential for muscle development, growth and repair. The recommended protein percentage in your steer’s diet should be around 12-15%. You should aim to feed your steer a mix of high-quality grains, soybeans, and hay to achieve this balance.
Carbohydrates are a primary energy source for your steer. They help to maintain body temperature, support growth, and supply energy for activity. A healthy steer should get about 70% of their diet from carbohydrates. Common sources of carbohydrates for steers include corn, oats, barley, and wheat.
Fats are an important energy source for your steer. They also play a role in insulation, promoting growth and muscle development. Steers should get about 5-6% of their diet from fats. Corn, soybean and cottonseed oil are good sources of fats for your steer.
Vitamins and Minerals
Vitamins and minerals are essential for your steer’s overall health. They help to support strong bones, teeth, and a healthy nervous system. The recommended vitamins and minerals that your steer should get include Zinc, Calcium, Copper, and Phosphorus. A good source of vitamins and minerals can be found in quality hay or supplements.
Determining the Right Amount of Grain to Feed Your Steer
The right amount of grain for your steer depends on its age, weight, and activity level. Too much or too little can cause health problems or even death. Like all animals, your steer should have free access to freshwater and quality hay, whether it is feeding on pasture or kept in a stall or feedlot.
Feeding Steer Under 600 lbs
If your steer is under 600 lbs, it should get about 10-12 lbs of grain per day, in addition to hay. Steers under 600 lbs are still developing, so they require more protein and energy to promote growth and good health.
Feeding Steer Between 600 and 900 lbs
When your steer reaches 600 to 900 lbs, it’s important to adjust their diet. At this stage, their energy and protein needs decrease, while their fat needs increase. They should get between 8-10 lbs of grain and good quality hay per day.
Feeding Steer Over 900 lbs
If your steer is over 900 lbs, it’s recommended to reduce their grain intake to around 6-8 lbs per day. This is important to prevent weight gain, minimize the risk of health complications, and ensure good meat quality.
Tips to Ensure Your Steer Is Eating Well
Feeding your steer can be a challenging task, especially if you are new to raising livestock. Here are some tips to help ensure your steer is eating well and getting the nutrients it needs:
- Ensure that your steer has free access to clean and fresh water at all times.
- Provide good quality hay that is free of dust and mold.
- Distribute grain and hay as evenly as possible to prevent the steer from sorting out less desirable materials.
- Gradually increase or decrease grain intake over a 2-week period to prevent digestive problems.
- Monitor your steer’s weight and health regularly, and adjust their diet as needed.
- Consult with a veterinarian or livestock nutritionist to help develop a diet plan specific to your steer’s individual needs.
The Bottom Line
Feeding your steer a well-balanced diet of grain, hay and supplements will ensure optimum health and meat quality. It’s essential to understand your steer’s nutritional needs and adjust their diet accordingly. When feeding your steer grain, remember to provide them with clean water and high-quality hay to ensure they receive all the necessary nutrients. With proper care, your steer can grow healthy and produce quality meat for the table.
Here are answers to some common questions related to how much grain to feed your steer each day:
- What kind of grain is best for my steer?
- How much grain should a steer eat per day?
- What are the signs that a steer is not getting enough nutrition?
- What are the implications of overfeeding my steer grain?
The best kind of grain to feed your steer depends on various factors like your geographic region, availability and cost of grain, and your steer’s nutritional requirements. The most commonly fed grain types for cattle are corn, soybeans, barley, and wheat.
The amount of grain a steer should eat per day varies according to its weight, age, and activity level. Ideally, you should feed your steer about 10-12 lbs of grain per day if it is under 600 lbs, 8-10 lbs per day if it weighs between 600 and 900 lbs and 6-8 lbs per day if it weighs over 900 lbs.
A steer that is not getting enough nutrition may exhibit signs like low energy or lethargy, weight loss, a rough hair coat, reduced feed intake, and diarrhea.
Overfeeding your steer grain may lead to health problems like bloat, acidosis, founder, and liver abscesses. It can also lead to reduced meat quality and growth impairment.
- Feed and Nutrition Management for Beef Cattle, North Carolina State University Extension
- Cattle Nutrition, The Ohio State University
- Feeding Beef Cattle, Clemson Cooperative Extension