Rations for Finishing Beef Cattle

Rations for finishing beef cattle are high energy rations designed to put gain on as rapidly and efficiently as possible. Beef cattle on finishing or full feed rations are typically allowed to eat as much as they can consume. An animal on full feed will eat approximately 85% of its ration as grain and the remaining 15% as forage.

The following rations are intended as guidelines only. Wastage is not taken into account. For rations specific to your situation, consult with a qualified nutritionist.

700-800 lbs @ 3.0 lbs/day gain

Alfalfa Grass Hay Barley Silage Corn Silage
4 lbs alfalfa grass hay 9 lbs barley silage 10 lbs corn silage
17 lbs barley 17 lbs barley 17 lbs barley
2 oz limestone 4 oz limestone .5 lbs canola meal
2 oz 2:1 mineral 2 oz 2:1 mineral 4 oz limestone
1 oz salt 1 oz salt 2 oz 2:1 mineral
    1 oz salt

800-1200 lbs @ 3.0 lbs/day gain

Alfalfa Grass Hay

Barley Silage Corn Silage
5 lbs alfalfa grass hay 10 lbs barley silage 13 lbs corn silage
20 lbs barley 20.5 lbs barley 21 lbs barley
2 oz limestone 4 oz limestone 5 oz limestone
2 oz 2:1 mineral 2 oz 2:1 mineral 2 oz 2:1 mineral
1 oz salt 2 oz salt 1 oz salt

** 1 oz = 28 g = 0.06 lbs **

Since high grain rations are low in calcium, limestone is added to rations to ensure proper development and growth. Minerals, vitamins and salt (cobalt iodized or trace mineralized) are best delivered in the grain ration, as it is impossible to ensure adequate intake on a free choice basis.

Additional protein is generally not required in finishing rations for beef cattle, as most commonly used cereal grains in Manitoba contain adequate levels of protein.

Feedbunk Management

Other factors that affect feedlot performance of beef cattle are management factors such as bunk management feeding frequency and feeder space. Ensure that feed bunks do not go empty for extended periods, Empty feed bunks can result in grain overloading when refilled, cattle go off feed, and days in the feeding program are lost. Required feeder space depends upon your feeding system. Cattle with access to feed at all times require less feed bunk space than cattle which are fed daily.


Feedlot cattle require 20,000 to 30,000 IU Vitamin A/day. This can be provided by the addition of a vitamin A premix to the feed.

For example: if you are feeding a vitamin premix with 1,500,000 IU Vitamin A/kg, 15 g premix/day would provide 22,500 IU Vitamin A/day. Twenty (20) grams of premix would provide a calf with 30,000 IU Vitamin A/day.

Prepared by Karen Dupchak and Michael Buchen, Manitoba Agriculture, Food and Rural Initiatives.