Animal Feed & Nutrition (Animal Husbandry III)

Course CodeBAG202
Fee CodeS2
Duration (approx)100 hours
QualificationStatement of Attainment

Study Animal Feed and Nutrition Online

"The information that I need is exactly what I am finding in the course material and information that I collect in order to answer the set questions".

Animal Husbandry student, United Arab Emirates

The Course Will Enable You To Understand the Composition of Animal Feed

Farm animals only grow to their full potential if they are fed well. Being 'well fed' does not mean being fed a large quantity. An animal that is fed well should be given just enough of the correct foods so that it can realize its production potential.

Feeding more than necessary can be both wasteful and uneconomical; and can lead to health problems in the livestock. The better farmer will feed at the 'optimum level' (i.e. just enough (but not more) that is need for optimum production).

It requires a great deal of skill, knowledge and practice to be able to feed animals optimally.

  • The first step is to gain a good understanding of the different types of food that can be fed to livestock. This will be covered in Lessons 1 to 7.
  • The second step is to learn how the different foods can be mixed together to form balanced rations for animals. This will be dealt with in Lessons 8 to 10.


Lesson Structure

There are 10 lessons in this course:

    • Terms and Definitions
    • Groups of Foods
    • Other Terms That Are Used
    • Food Processing Terms
    • Water
    • Carbohydrates
    • Carbohydrates as a Source Of Energy
    • Fats and Oils
    • Adipose Tissue Deposits in Animals
    • Fat Deposits in Different Animals
    • Composition of Proteins
    • The Build Up Of Proteins
    • Biological Value of Protein
    • Protein Content of Foods
    • The Function of Protein
    • Feeding Urea to Ruminants
    • Major Minerals
    • Trace Elements
    • Vitamins
    • Analysis of Feed Stuffs
    • Calculating Digestibility
    • Protein Value
    • Energy Value
    • Nutrient Value of Some Common Foods
    • Cereals and Cereal By-Products
    • Brewing By-Products
    • Grasses, Legumes and Succulents
    • Lucerne
    • Sainfoin
    • Other Succulent Foods
    • Roughage, Hay, Silage and Dried Grass
    • Oil and Legume Seeds
    • Oil Seeds and Their Products
    • Legume Seeds
    • Fodder Trees and Animal Products
    • Fodder Trees and Shrubs
    • Animal Products
    • The Object of Rationing
    • Nutritional Requirements of the Animal
    • Calculating a Maintenance Ration
    • Cattle at Pasture
    • Working Out Rations for a Herd
    • Nutrient Requirements for a Dairy Cow
    • Working Out the Total Requirements
    • Feeding a Ration to Meet Nutrient Needs
    • The Dairy Ration
    • Ready Mix Feeds
    • Using Protein Contents
    • A Summary of Rationing
    • Further Considerations in Rationing


  • demonstrate an understanding of the range of livestock feeds and feeding methods available for animal production, using accepted industry terminology.
  • describe the role of energy foods, including the sources and functions of those foods, in animal diets.
  • describe the function of the major nutritional groups, including proteins, vitamins, minerals and trace elements in animal diets.
  • describe the on-farm methods used to evaluate feeding, including selection of feeds and feed digestibility.
  • describe the dietary value of pastures, including grasses, cereals, and other edible plants, and their by-products for animal feeds.
  • describe the dietary value of seeds, including oil seeds, legume seeds and their by-products as food sources for animals.
  • describe the dietary value of fodder plants, including trees and shrubs and their by-products, as a food source in animal production.
  • demonstrate an understanding of suitable feed rations for a farm animal maintenance program.
  • describe the method(s) to determine suitable feed rations in a farm animal production program.
  • describe the dietary value of protein in an animal production program.
  • describe the factors affecting the composition of feed rations in animal production.

What You Will Do

  • Explain the importance of feed quality in livestock production.
  • Describe the various food groups that animal foodstuffs are based upon.
  • Define at least fifteen relevant industry terms related to livestock feed, feeding and feed processing.
  • Explain the role of water in animal nutrition.
  • Describe three different, commercially available, animal feeds, including the composition and appropriate uses for each.
  • List the chemical names of at least five different carbohydrates which are of importance to animal production.
  • Evaluate the roles of four different carbohydrates in animal metabolism.
  • List the important sources of carbohydrates for at least four different types of farm animals.
  • List the chemical names of at least five different fats which are important to animal production.
  • Compare fat deposition patterns in three different animals.
  • Explain the role of two different lipids in animal metabolism.
  • List the important sources of fats and lipids used in livestock feeds.
  • Explain the importance of proteins to animal production.
  • Describe the chemical composition of naturally occurring proteins.
  • List the sources of protein commonly used in foodstuffs for two different types of farm animal species.
  • Explain the differences in protein requirements for different animals.
  • List five vitamins and trace elements of importance in livestock nutrition, including their.
    • source foods
    • requirement levels
    • physiological functions
    • deficiency symptoms.
  • Prepare a one page chart or table comparing the vitamin, mineral, protein and trace elements components of three different commercial animal feeds.
  • Explain the function and source of the various nutritional components found in three different commercial livestock nutrient supplements.
  • Describe the components of a specified animal feed.
  • Distinguish between the 'protein value' and 'energy value' of two specified animal feeds.
  • Explain the concept of 'digestibility' as it relates to animal feed.
  • Describe the techniques used to calculate digestibility of animal feeds.
  • Perform a calculation of digestibility for a specified feed.
  • Describe two standard methods used to assess animal feeds.
    • composition
    • relative digestibility
    • palatability.
  • List at least five cereal and cereal by-product feeds used in animal production.
  • Describe the food value characteristics of five cereals and cereal by-product feeds used in animal production.
  • List at least five grasses and forage crops used as farm animal feeds.
  • Describe the dietary value of five forage crops, including grasses, used in animal production.
  • List at least five harvested feed products, including hay, roughage and silage used as feeds in animal production.
  • Explain the dietary value characteristics of five harvested feed products including hays, roughage and silage used in animal production.
  • Explain the dietary value of a growing pasture, on a farm visited and studied by you.
  • Compare the nutritional value to farm animals, of ten different pasture foodstuffs, including cereals, grasses, hay and their by-products.
  • List four oil seeds (or their by-products) used as feeds in animal production.
  • Explain the use of oil seeds (or their by-products) as animal feeds.
  • List three legume seeds used as feeds in animal production.
  • Evaluate the dietary value of three different legume seeds, as animal feeds.
  • Collect small samples of three oil seeds and three legume seeds.
  • Compare the characteristics of two different oil seed species, with two different legume seed species.
  • List five fodder plants (or their by-products) used as feed in animal production.
  • Provide recommendations on how three different fodder plant species may be used as an animal feed source on a specified farm.
  • Compare the nutritional value of three different fodder plant species.
  • Explain the objective of maintenance rationing in two different farm situations observed by you.
  • Explain the differences in feed rations given to maintain the same type of animal on two separate farms.
  • Describe the nutritional requirements of two different specified types of livestock.
  • Calculate a 'maintenance feed ration' for a specified farm animal.
  • Develop a maintenance feeding program, for a group of animals, such as a herd of cattle or flock of sheep.
  • Design three different types of animal feeds/rations, for three specified purposes.
  • Define, using examples, the concept of 'production rations'.
  • Explain the objective of production rationing in two different farm situations observed by you.
  • Explain the differences in the production feed ration given to maintain the same type of animal on two different farms.
  • Explain the nutritional requirements for a specified type of production livestock.
  • Calculate a 'production feed ration' for a specified farm animal.
  • Develop a production feeding program for a herd of milking dairy cattle, in a specified locality.
  • Explain the uses of ready-mix feeds as protein supplements for farm animals in two specified situations.
  • Calculate, using two different methods, the protein requirements of a production feed ration for a specified farm animal.
  • Explain the assumptions behind feed ration calculations for farm animals in a specified situation.
  • Explain the rationing factors, including food quality and palatability, for three different specified situations.
  • Describe the role of acids in two different specified animal diets.


Grass Silage

The nutritive value of grass silage depends upon the composition of the original material and the losses incurred during the process of ensiling. Such losses occur from initial respiration, fermentation and seepage at the top and sides of the silo. All of these losses may be considerable unless the silage is well made. For a well-made grass silage, the loss of original dry matter and TDN is approximately 25%.

A poor quality silage frequently results from under-consolidation. This occurs when the ensiled material consists of very young, wet, high protein grass which has a low content of fermentable carbohydrate. When the silage mass is under-consolidated, over-heating occurs which leads to excessive destruction of carbohydrates and a marked reduction in the digestibility of the proteins. Hence, over-heated silages have a low nutritive value, but are very palatable.

The other type of poor quality silage, also made from young high-moisture grass occurs when the fermentation and acidification rate is very slow. This happens when there is not enough fermentable carbohydrate in the ensiled material. Butyric acid-forming organisms increase rapidly, very little heat is produced and considerable breaking down of proteins to ammonia occurs. The result is very unpalatable silage with an unpleasant smell, and a lowered feed value because of protein losses.


(All values on a dry matter basis)





Lucerne Silage

Lucerne for silage should not be cut before the early flowering stage. After cutting, it is wilted a little and molasses can be added. When lucerne silage is well made, it provides an excellent high-protein forage which is especially suited to dairy cows.







Before looking at the different types of food stuffs in more detail, there are several terms and definitions with which you should become familiar.

Feed Stuff

This is a broad and general term that is used when referring to any food or fodder. It includes naturally occurring plant or animal products and by-products (e.g. grass, maize, brewers' grains). It also includes vitamin or mineral supplements that are chemically synthesized, or otherwise manufactured pure nutrients. In other words, you will be quite safe referring to anything that is fed to an animal as a 'feed stuff'.


A ration is a 24-hour allowance of feed stuff that is given to an animal. The important thing to note is that the term carries no implications that the allowance is adequate in quantity or kind to meet the nutritional needs of the animal for which it is intended. Some confusion normally arises as to the difference between the words RATION and DIET. These can be explained as follows:

RATION: the daily allowance of food for one person (e.g. a soldier) or one animal (e.g. a steer). Remember, the ration may not be enough for optimum production.

DIET: this is what the person or animal usually eats or drinks.

Maintenance Ration

This is the ration which would allow the animal only enough to stay in the initial condition (ie: to support life with no product, no gain, no loss of body substance). It is the minimum amount of food required to keep the animal alive. This can be particularly important for maintaining stock when there is a shortage of feed (e.g. drought conditions).

Balanced Maintenance Ration

This definition has two parts. 'Maintenance Ration' here refers to a feed mixture which is just sufficient to meet the requirements of a specified animal in a 24-hour period. The animal receiving the ration will neither lose nor gain weight. 'Balanced' means that the proportion of carbohydrate, fat and protein in the ration is correct.




Carbohydrates are made up of sugars and starches (called soluble carbohydrates) and fiber (called crude carbohydrate). Sugars and starches provide energy and heat. If they are not used immediately they will be stored as fat.

Fiber is a woody substance with little feeding value. It does, however, have an important role to play in keeping the digestive system working smoothly. It stimulates the digestive process and helps in the absorption of food.

All carbohydrates are made up of carbon, hydrogen and oxygen.


Proteins contain carbon, hydrogen and oxygen. In addition they contain nitrogen. Proteins are used to maintain the body, and to grow and repair tissues. Proteins also provide heat and energy. Protein is especially important for young, growing animals and for animals who are producing milk, eggs or meat.


Fats also contain carbon, hydrogen and oxygen, but no nitrogen. Fats renew fat tissue and provide heat and energy. The energy value of fats is two and a half times higher than that of carbohydrates.




On the farm, roughage is normally considered to be material making up fodder such as hay, silage; pastures, etc. The distinguishing characteristic of roughage is usually a high fiber content. For hay, this frequently runs between 25 - 30% of the dry matter.


Technically, all feeds supplying nutrients (proteins, carbohydrates and fats) are classed as concentrates if their crude fibre content does not exceed 18%. In the feed trade, the word 'concentrate' has been used to indicate commercially prepared supplements.

Basal Feeds

Basal feeds are concentrated sources of energy and are especially rich in starches and sugars. They include the whole group of grains (e.g. wheat, maize, oats, etc.) and their by-products. Basal feeds have a protein content that is greater than 16% and a maximum fibre content of 18%. The main difference between basal feeds and other feed stuffs is that basal feeds have a high digestible energy content. Basal feeds make up 60 - 90% of all rations.


Feeds of this type are concentrated sources of protein, minerals and vitamins. A mixed protein supplement is, by convention, a mixture of feeds which carries 30% or more of protein. Single feeds containing 20% or more of protein are included in this group.


Any food constituent, or group of food constituents of the same general chemical composition, which aids in the support of animal life.


This is a measure of the amount of heat required to raise the temperature of 1 gram of water by one degree Centigrade. One kilocalorie = 1000 calories.


This is an approximate measurement of the amount of food which has been absorbed by the animal. Not all food which is taken in by the animal can be absorbed (see Figure 1).

Digestibility is usually described as a percentage which can be worked out using the following formula:

Percentage digestibility = (Amount in feed - Amount in faeces) x 100

Amount in feed


This may seem a strange term to use in conjunction with feed stuffs. However, there are harmful substances which, when used at certain levels, are harmful enough to be classed as toxic. Urea is an example of a feed stuff that is potentially toxic if too much is fed at one time. if the correct amount of urea is fed, the feed stuff is very valuable. The term 'toxic' must not be confused with 'poison'.

Why Study This Course?

  • Farming is and has always been a boom-and-bust industry; with changes in the weather and in the market always causing unpredictability for the farmer. One of the major, periodic problems, which farms face, is to keep livestock fed when drought reduces the feed being grown on farm. This situation can be further complicated if the cost of buying in food starts to increase.
  • Studying this course can help you understand your options when animal feed becomes scarce or expensive.
  • What you learn from this course may very easily save you a lot of unnecessary costs; and in some situations what you learn here may be the difference between finding a creative solution to save the farm, and retain some level of profit.

Who Is This Course Suitable For?

The course is suitable for anyone working with animals and who needs to know how to feed animals to an optimal level, such as -

  • farmers and farm workers
  • zookeepers and zoo staff
  • pet shop staff
  • wildlife park staff

Any Questions?

Please click here to contact us.

Or Request a Handbook of All of our courses here.


Meet some Of our academics

It's Easy to Enrol

Select a Learning Method


$461.00Payment plans available.

Courses can be started at any time from anywhere in the world!

Need Help?

Take advantage of our personalised, expert course counselling service to ensure you're making the best course choices for your situation.