Proper animal nutrition means giving the animals the proper amount of all nutrients necessary for optimum production. This involves knowledge of the nutrients themselves, factors that affect the requirements of animals, and the feeds used to deliver those nutrients.
Cost is always a consideration for profit-motivated producers. This interplay of factors can become very intricate, but it need not be.
For the ewe flock, proper nutrition involves giving animals all the good quality forage they want, and supplementing that with nutrients that may be deficient. So the basics of animal nutrition are good forage management, such as proper fertilization, a mixture of grasses and legumes, maintaining forage at a nutritious stage of growth, and providing forage in adequate quantities. That’s another talk for another day, so let’s now focus on the supplementation side of this issue.
Supplements are just that – sources of nutrition that are given to animals in addition to their basic ration, with the intent of increasing the intake of that critical nutrient. Thus, we can’t properly supplement without knowing the requirements of animals, or without knowing the amount of nutrition provided by the basal ration.