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Basic Ration Balancing

Balancing a ration to meet an animal's requirements can sometimes become a time consuming task. However, the time may be well spent if it produces healthy fast growing animals. Balancing rations can also save you money by preventing overfeeding of expensive nutrients such as protein.

Balancing a ration begins with looking at the minimum amount of a nutrient which an animal needs to maintain its body weight or grow at a certain rate. Nutrients which you should balance for include protein, TDN (energy), calcium, and phosphorus. When balancing rations for adult animals begin with the TDN requirement and when balancing for young growing animals begin with the protein requirement. You may feed more than the requirement for some nutrients. As long as the extra amount is not excessive the ration will meet the needs of the animal.

Computer programs now available can really speed up the process of balancing a ration, but you do need to remember the "garbage in, garbage out" problem. If you put incorrect information (garbage) into the computer, the computer will give you incorrect calculations (garbage).

Below is an example of how you might balance a ration for mature does using orchardgrass hay.

Not all rations will balance this easily: you should need to include some type of grain in rations for younger animals. Below is an example for balancing a ration for a doe kid eating the same orchardgrass hay described above.

For rations that you are formulating in winter, you will also want to increase the amounts you feed to compensate for the animals needing extra energy for keeping themselves warm.