How to Develop a Cattle Diet Plan for Your Herd

Article and images courtesy of VITAFERM®

How to Develop a Cattle Diet Plan for Your Herd 
(SAINT JOSEPH, Mo., July 3, 2024) Raising cattle isn’t as simple as it once was. Generations ago, our great grandparents likely bought some cows from the neighbor, purchased a bull from another neighbor and hoped for the best. Their cattle diet plan probably didn’t exist, as they fed the feedstuffs that they raised on their farm – corn and hay.

Today, you invest in quality genetics. In order to optimize those genetics, you need to provide a quality nutrition plan. It needs to include more than turning the herd out to grass and giving them a salt block or two.

Developing a cattle diet plan involves several key steps to ensure that the nutritional needs of the cattle are met for optimal growth, health and productivity.

6 Steps to Develop an Effect Cattle Diet Plan 

The expert team at VitaFerm® wants you to succeed in cattle production. That is why we’ve developed this simplified approach to develop an effective cattle diet plan. Throughout the process, if you have specific questions, we encourage you to seek out your local BioZyme® dealer or Area Sales Manager or speak with a ruminant nutritionist with your specific questions.

1.  Understand the Nutritional Requirements 

Knowing and understanding what to feed cows is a vitally important step to your nutritional success. Here is an abbreviated rundown of the essential nutrients your herd needs to thrive.


Cattle need energy for maintenance, growth, reproduction and lactation. Energy is usually provided by carbohydrates and fats.


Essential for growth, reproduction and lactation. Protein requirements vary with age, weight and production stage.

Vitamins and Minerals 

Critical for various bodily functions, including immune response and bone development. Important minerals include calcium, phosphorus, magnesium and trace minerals like copper, zinc and selenium.


Ensure constant access to clean, fresh water. Water intake is crucial for digestion and overall health.

2.  Assess the Cattle’s Needs 

Your herd’s nutritional needs will be largely dependent on the reproductive phase they are entering. Take this into consideration as you create your cattle diet plan.

Stage of Production 

Nutritional needs for your beef cattle are often the highest during the final weeks of gestation and lactation. Determine if the cattle are in the growing, finishing, lactating or maintenance stage.

Body Condition 

Evaluate the body condition score (BCS) of the cattle to determine their current nutritional status. Ideally, your herd will be in the “just right” range of 5 to 6.

Breed & Age 

Nutritional needs can vary based on breed and age. Breeds that are known as heavier milkers will require more nutrients. Likewise younger heifers are still developing, and those older cows will also need feedstuffs with a higher nutritional value.

3. Analyze Available Feed Resources 

Forage Quality 

Test the quality of available forage (hay, silage, pasture) for nutrient content. You cannot tell forage quality only by outward appearance. BioZyme offers complimentary forage testing for its customers. Once your forage analysis is received and the results are ready, our staff nutritionists work with you to make recommendations for your cattle diet plan.

Grains & Supplements 

Evaluate the quality and nutritional content of grains and supplements available. Once you know the quality of the forages you are feeding, you gain a better understanding of the kind of grains and supplements you need to supplement with. Supplement any nutrients that your forage is lacking, and if unsure, always consult with a nutritionist.

4. Formulate the Diet 

Base Diet on Forage 

Forage should be the foundation of the diet. High-quality forage can meet most of the nutritional needs. However, we cannot emphasize the importance of forage testing enough. A complete analysis will assist you in knowing what other nutrients you need to accompany it with.

Supplement as Needed 

Add grains, protein supplements and mineral/vitamin premixes to fill any nutritional gaps. This is where the VitaFerm supplements can make a difference. VitaFerm is a line of nutritional supplements for beef cattle that maximize energy and forage utilization for successful production.

VitaFerm is fueled by AO-Biotics® Amaferm®, a research-proven prebiotic designed to enhance digestibility. There is a VitaFerm mineral for every stage of production.

Balance the Ration 

Use ration balancing software or consult with a livestock nutritionist to ensure the diet is balanced. This includes balancing energy, protein, fiber, vitamins and minerals.

5. Consider Feed Additives 

Prebiotics & Probiotics  

These can improve gut health and nutrient absorption. Amaferm, our research-proven prebiotic is the cornerstone ingredient to nearly every product we make due to the fact it helps keep the gut healthy. Since know that 70% of the immune response is found in the digestive tract, keeping the gut healthy is vital to keeping the entire animal healthy.

6.  Monitor and Adjust the Diet 

Monitor your herd’s diet regularly. Keep track of weight gain, body condition and overall health of the cattle. Make necessary adjustments to the diet based on performance and changes in forage quality or availability. Regular pasture checks to monitor water tanks, mineral feeders and forages are a good idea, especially in big country areas, where pastures are spread out.

BioZyme Products are Research Proven   

Now that you are more familiar with formulating your cattle diet plan, don’t forget to include the Amaferm! Amaferm is the key additive in all VitaFerm products. It has more than 111 published and/or presented research studies proving its increase in digestibility and, ultimately, its impact on the animal.

Providing a high-quality trace mineral and vitamin supplementation like VitaFerm Concept•Aid is research-proven to improve reproductive efficiency. For example, our reproductive success report shows that VitaFerm Concept•Aid has proven itself as an industry leader in fertility support. Its ability to improve pregnancy rates, calving percentages, and weaning weights is unmatched by other brand products.

Get Your VitaFerm Today   

Providing the proper vitamins and minerals for cows is an important part of your cattle diet plan. At BioZyme, we give you options within the VitaFerm line. Not sure what to feed cows when it comes to the VitaFerm line? Check out our Concept•Aid Product Navigator.

Get your VitaFerm products from an authorized BioZyme dealer today. Our extensive dealer network is here to help you meet mineral needs.

Cattle Nutrition Experts  

VitaFerm® is an established brand of vitamin and mineral supplements designed to maximize energy and forage utilization for successful beef production. Our products support cattle producers looking to maximize their operations. And best of all, VitaFerm products ensure balanced nutrition for livestock.

The VitaFerm brand is the flagship brand of BioZyme Inc., a leading fermentation company pioneering advancements in animal nutrition and health. Through innovative research and high-quality manufacturing, BioZyme creates powerful solutions that improve animal performance and support producer profitability in the agricultural industry.

Our mission: undeniable positive impact on the health and wellness of your animals, and your business.

About BioZyme® Inc.

BioZyme Inc., founded in 1951, develops and manufactures natural, proprietary products focused on animal nutrition, health and microbiology. With a continued commitment to research, BioZyme offers a complete line of feed additives and high density, highly available vitamin, mineral, trace mineral and protein supplements for a variety of animals including cattle, pigs, poultry, sheep, goats, horses and dogs. BioZyme brands include AO-Biotics, VitaFerm®, Gain Smart®, Sure Champ®, Vitalize®, DuraFerm® and Backyard Boost®. With headquarters in St. Joseph, Missouri, the company reaches a global market of customers that stretches into countries across five continents. For more information about BioZyme, visit

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