Feed additives for beef cattle


  • John J. Wagner Department of Animal and Range Sciences, South Dakota State University




New products have complicated cattle feeding and management. A multitude of feed additives are available to add to cattle rations. These compounds generally do not supply essential nutrients to the cattle. Instead, they are designed to increase growth rate and/or improve the efficiency .of growth through manipulating rumen fermentation or through controlling liver abscesses, digestive disorders, bloat, coccidiosis, and other conditions.

One point of confusion for many is at what point of inclusion does a nutritional supplement become a feed additive. Nutrient supplements are fed to supply essential nutrition. Once this level is grossly exceeded, the product is no longer a supplement and should be classified as an additive. Feeding levels of trace minerals or vitamins that exceed levels necessary to compensate for unavoidable low intakes is considered an extra label use by FDA. and is therefore illegal.

Feed additives can be generally divided into six broad categories: 1) ionophores, 2) antibiotics, 3) coccidiostats, 4) estrus suppressants, 5) buffers, and 6) others. Each feed additive has its own properties, recommended level offeeding, and label clearances. A thorough understanding of these characteristics is necessary to achieve optimum response and maximum cost effectiveness.

The objective of this paper is to provide a basis for understanding the use and limitations offeed additives. Nonnutritive additives as well as vitamins and minerals are discussed in this paper.

Author Biography

John J. Wagner, Department of Animal and Range Sciences, South Dakota State University

Associate Professor and Extension Ruminant Nutrition Specialist




How to Cite

Wagner, J. J. (1994). Feed additives for beef cattle. The Bovine Practitioner, 1994(28), 11–16. https://doi.org/10.21423/bovine-vol1994no28p11-16