Merck Manual

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Professional Version

Nutritional Advice


W. Mark Hilton

, DVM, DABVP, Veterinary Clinical Sciences, School of Veterinary Medicine, Purdue University

Reviewed/Revised Apr 2014 | Modified Oct 2022

Feedlots frequently consult a qualified nutritionist to assist in the formulation of cost-effective diets. The veterinarian should communicate with the nutritionist regarding the composition of the diets and any changes being planned. Most of the emphasis in feedlot nutrition has been on the development of cost-effective diets that support an optimal growth rate without any deleterious effects. Considerable information is available on the nutrient requirements for feedlot cattle and on the feeds and feeding systems used. (Also see Nutrition: Beef Cattle Nutrition: Beef Cattle .)

Nutritional deficiency diseases are uncommon in feedlot cattle, because cattle usually receive a diet that contains the nutrients required for maintenance and promotion of rapid growth. Diets prepared according to published standards should meet all the requirements under most conditions. Specific nutrient deficiencies are extremely rare; however, such a situation may be seen in a small farm feedlot that prepares its own diet with little or no attention to the necessity for supplementation of homegrown feeds. Although only a few nutritional diseases may affect a well-managed feedlot, these diseases may cause large economic losses when they develop. They include carbohydrate engorgement (grain overload or d-lactic acidosis), feedlot bloat or ruminal tympany, and feeding errors (ie, accidental incorporation of an excessive amount of a feed additive, such as monensin or urea, or sudden unintended changes in the ingredient composition of the diet).

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