While dealing with the ice and cold weather I have noticed our nutrition gurus are looking more and more into balancing rations of essential amino acids instead of protein. I ask the question “Is their requirement of protein for animals in their diet?” Actually “NO.” Animals must have the 10 essential amino acids and cats require 11 amino acids.
This is a very interesting topic to me. We have always thought of a protein requirement for animals, but in reality they require the amino acids. If we do not supply the right amino acids they can not put on muscle or grow properly. We just might have them getting fat or slow growers.
Now in hogs we have been balancing rations for amino acids for a long time. The limiting amino acids in hog diets are Lysine, threonine and tryptophan. Normally if we balance for Lysine we cover the other two. This is also why most hog diets are a corn and soybean meal base. Corn is very low in Lysine, while soybean meal is very high. We also have straight Lysine that we can also add to there diet. But, most generally it is cheaper to stay with the corn and soybean meal base diet.
What all of this actually boils down to is given our animals a complete and balanced diet that provides their body the building blocks to grow and thrive. This includes vitamins, minerals, protein (amino acids), fat and carbohydrates. This all has to be in balance to grow an animal.
I am currently researching this topic more, but I thought at a time of cold stress it is a good thing to talk about in this article. Balance your ration with what you have, hay. This might mean you need to have your hay tested. I have also seen a hay yard from the same field and values were very different from each area of the same field, (7-15 percent protein). So, yes we can have a lot of variables in feed values from the same hay field or crop. And as the hay sits we can have nutrients leach out, just like putting mineral out and leaving it in the weather. This is why I like to have people put out fresh mineral at least every week or twice a week. We only have to put out what they will eat for that time frame.