Can I use oats as a feed for beef cattle?

Beef Cattle February 26, 2008 Print Friendly and PDF
Yes, oats can be used as a feed for beef cattle. Oats are a cereal grain typically grown in the northern United States. Oats are used in human food applications and are marketed to horse owners as well. As a result, there are times when the cost of oats is not competitive with other cereal grains. Oats contain 11 to 14 percent CP but contain higher levels of fiber and lower levels of energy than other cereal grains such as corn or barley. These characteristics make oats desirable because they are easy to feed with very few cases of digestive upset. For beef cattle, the most common applications are as a creep feed for growing calves and as an energy supplement for forage-fed animals. In addition, oats work well for starting calves on feed. The energy content of oats is related to its test weight or bushel weight. Heavier test weights have increased energy density (lower levels of hull present as a proportion of total weight). It is important to take this into account when pricing oats as a feedstuff. Oats can also be harvested as a forage crop. Cut oats in the soft dough stage for optimum nutrient content and yield.

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This work is supported by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, New Technologies for Ag Extension project.