Determining Energy Level from Feed Label

Nov 02, 2020


Most anytime we hear the merits of two or more beef feeds discussed, the level of protein is mentioned. Not surprising, since the protein percentage is often in the name of the feed and is always listed at the top of the guaranteed nutrients. Protein definitely is important as a component of muscle tissue, organs, hide, and hair, but as a rule the animal industry tends to overemphasize protein while paying little attention to energy content. 

Of all the dietary components required by an animal, energy is needed in the largest quantity.  Growth, reproduction, and lactation are all driven by the amount of energy consumed. So, given its importance, why is energy content not listed on the feed label?  Each state in the U.S. writes its own laws regarding feed label rules and regulations. Their own regulatory personnel are then responsible for inspecting feed labels, analyzing feed samples, and enforcing those standards. At present, accurately testing for energy content is both complicated and expensive, and thus a guarantee is not required on a feed label.

Fat content is listed on the feed label, and is a concentrated source of energy, but does not tell all there is to know about energy content. Fiber fractions and their digestibility have a larger bearing on the energy value of a feedstuff. It is easily possible to have a feed with an appreciable amount of fat listed on its label that would be low in total energy.

The total ingredient makeup must be considered. Look for feeds with high levels of soluble (digestible) fiber, which is easily converted to energy by cattle, and is abundant in ingredients such as wheat middlings, soybean hulls, corn gluten feed, and citrus pulp. Non-structural carbohydrates such as sugars and starches are also energetic and will be present in corn or other grains.

While it is unfortunate that energy content isn’t more easily determined from a feed tag, paying attention to ingredient composition and content of nutrients other than fat is the best way to estimate energy value without chemical analysis.

 

Read More News

Jun 27,2022
When forage is the main segment of the diet, quality of a pasture or crop will ultimately be determined by performance of the animal (growth, reproduction, lactation, performance in a horse, etc.). Forage quality, defined simply as the ability of a given forage to meet nutrient needs of the consuming animal, can be affected by multiple issues.
 
Jun 20,2022
We recognize that the primary goals of the dry period are to regenerate mammary tissue, replenish body reserves (both soft tissue and mineral), and provide some rest for the cow before the onset of the next lactation.  It is especially critical that the dry cow feeding program be designed to meet her unique nutritional requirements to help prevent undue stress and other metabolic diseases and improve early lactation performance. 
Jun 14,2022
Summer heat and humidity are challenging for both horses and horse owners. Helping horses cope with the heat is important for both their comfort and optimum athletic performance. You might be surprised to learn that horses are less tolerant of high temperatures than humans.