Feeding Beef Cattle: The Basics

Raising and feeding beef cattle can be a risky business. Though the United States remains the leader in beef production globally, per capita consumption has fallen since the 1970s from 70 pounds per capita to 55. Many beef feeding companies are not adapted to small-scale and part-time farms, though these operations are necessary to keep the industry competitive. New Heritage Feed Company caters to all industries. Whether you are a hobby farmer, own a massive operation, or are a backyard livestock owner, our feed is designed for your animals. Our products are locally sourced and use all-natural ingredients. Our products are created with the community, customers, and animals in mind. We carry unique blends for all stages of your cattle's growth that are nutritionally adequate and free of toxicity. Planning and preparation are essential to have a successful beef cattle operation. You must determine where you will obtain feeder calves, what you will feed beef cattle to reach the desired weight, nutritional expectations, and the type of shelter necessary for your business.

Feeding Beef Cattle

Feeding beef cattle. Male rancher in a farm with cattle at  background Between 24 and 27 billion pounds of beef are produced in the United States annually. Though domestic consumption has been decreasing, foreign demand remains high. Typically farmers raise weaned calves to a slaughter weight of 1,000 to 1,400 pounds. The cost of feeding beef cattle drops as the number of animals increases in operation. It is cyclical based on supply and demand. Farmers should feed beef cattle their stock nutritionally adequate, economical feed in the amount necessary to avoid excess waste. It must provide the daily nutrient requirements for the animal.

Nutritional Needs of Feed

Cattle that weighs 700 pounds or more should be given a ration that contains 11% protein in a mix composed of grain. More extensive framed beef cattle will require a higher grain ratio to achieve the same quality as smaller framed cattle. Thus ration can depend upon the type of livestock raised and the market grade. The options for feeding beef cattle should be flexible. Corn and hay crops can be incorporated into the feeding program for beef cattle. Ideally, feedstuffs will minimize the cost of weight gain, provide a balanced diet, and support end market goals. Performance enhancers are an option, but consumer preference and market need to be considered. Enhancers such as growth-stimulation implants have proven to provide the most profitable returns while proven safe for consumers. A health program for feeding beef cattle must be designed in coordination with a veterinarian. They can assist in nutritional support, vaccinations, implantations, and ensure the animals are healthy and of an adequate grade for the market.


Farmer in front of cattle on farm Material for facilities includes fencing, boards, wire panels, and steel cables. Housing does not have to be expensive. Both open-sided sheds and enclosed structures are appropriate. It is essential because it is designed for the number of cattle and has a good manure management program. Most facilities have concrete feed blocks for feeding beef cattle that allow them to eat on one or both sides of the structure. Lumbar is another option as an alternative to concrete. Deliver feed via a mixer wagon, conveyor belt, or bucket loader.

Purchasing Beef Cattle

A line of bulls. Graded feeder calf sales typically happen in the Spring and Fall. Farmers can use cattle brokers or auctions to obtain feeding beef cattle. Prices can fluctuate significantly, but higher-grade feeder cattle sell at a greater rate than lower grades. Cattle in better shape are generally given a higher grade, regardless of weight in pounds. Thinner, lower-grade beef cattle may be initially less costly to purchase but can be more expensive in the long run. They incur higher medical treatment costs, have lower sales prices, and higher death-loss rates. The goal is to purchase beef cattle with the genetic ability to grow and add sale weight.

Environmental Implications

Farmers have much to consider in regards to their operation and how it may impact the environment. They handle pesticides, have manure to handle, and use equipment to manage their stock. All of these can influence soil, water, or air. Regulations must be followed in the proper handling of waste and the application of chemicals when raising and feeding beef cattle. Misuse can have an impact on not only the environment but on your livestock. To obtain the proper handling and disposal of waste information, you should contact the necessary agencies. These agencies are the soil and water conservation district, agricultural protection, or local governing authorities to obtain proper handling and disposal of waste.


Farmer in front of cattle on farm All facilities and equipment must be insured when raising and feeding beef cattle. Obtaining insurance can best be accomplished by connecting with a local insurance agent or broker. Property, liability, and vehicle insurance coverage should all be in place. A good option is to obtain multi-peril crop insurance. It helps farmers to manage yield risk and revenue shortfalls. A crop insurance agent can assist in providing more information on qualifications. Another option to manage risk in the cattle feed market is to forward contract through the future exchange. Future demands can be used to lock in the cost of purchased feed and the price received on livestock. It reduces income variability and sets an estimate in advance for the value of the beef cattle sold. It eliminates the risk of waiting on the sale date to determine beef cattle prices.

Budget Considerations

Feeding beef cattle. Farmer with tablet looking aside in wooden cattle barn at the farm. It is essential to consider all costs and budget so you may have a successful operation. Allocating price to nutritional feed with the correct protein to grain ratio will ensure you are feeding beef cattle adequately to make them competitive. New Heritage Feed Company has carefully formulated beef cattle feed with the right combination of fat, grain, protein, minerals, and vitamins for your growing calves. Three selections are available based on feeding beef cattle age and market weight. New Heritage Feed Company has even added essential oils to their blend, making them unique. They partnered with reliable chemists who are leaders in the essential oil and natural health market. Great nutritional feed will ensure you will meet the demands of an ever-changing and competitive market.