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Classes of Cattle

Cow and calf in pasture

Calves. Heifers. Cows. Bulls. Steers. Each class of cattle has its own unique nutritional requirements.


Calves all have one goal — putting on weight. Your challenge is to optimize weight gain through the transitions every calf faces. A variety of stresses can have an impact on health and performance. Initially, these include stresses associated with weaning, separation from the mother, handling, changes in diet, and further processing.  Later stresses involve placing the calf in the next production segment (stocker/backgrounding or feedlot), handling, transportation, comingling, diet changes, and exposure to new organisms. 


Replacement heifers represent the future of the breeding herd. By providing them with every nutritional advantage, you help meet target weights for improved breeding performance. Successfully navigating the transition challenges of weaning and beyond requires the proper balance of supplemental protein, energy, minerals, and vitamins.


Cows have critical nutritional requirements that change with each production phase: calving to breeding, late lactation, mid-gestation (dry period), and pre-calving. Tailoring supplementation to reflect the cow's current situation is likely to have a positive influence on calf weaning weight, re-breeding performance, reconditioning, and fetal development.


Bulls up to one year of age require an intensive feeding program to help assure fast growth, high post-weaning average daily gain, and heavy yearling weight. Preconditioning diet formulation and management are keys to success for growing bulls. For mature bulls, reconditioning is key. When breeding season is over, animals that have been "bred to breed" tend to have lower body condition and must regain condition prior to the next breeding season. 


Steers (and feeder heifers) require economical frame growth and muscle development. Strategic supplementation includes options geared to both stockers and feeders. Needs depend on pasture growth stage, forage type, and feeding complete feeds or concentrates that are mixed with on-farm ingredients.