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This Is What Your Feed Tag Is Telling You

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When purchasing feed, it is essential to take time to read the feed tag that, by law, is attached to every bag of feed or mineral sold. This will help you determine if the feed is legal and safe for the animal species you will feed it to and that it will satisfy the animal’s nutritional needs. The following sections will typically be on most feed tags.

Product Name

The feed name and brand will be listed at the top. If it is medicated, the word “medicated” must be at the end of the name.

Purpose/Product Statement

This statement indicates the species of animal and stage of production that the feed can be used for (for example, mineral for beef mature cows on pasture).

Medicated Use Statement

If the feed contains any medication (Bovatec, Rumensin, Chlortetracycline, etc.), the active ingredient and quantity must be listed.

Guaranteed Analysis

This section defines the nutritional composition of the feed or mineral. If the product is intended as a feed or feed supplement, the following must be listed as a minimum: crude protein, crude fat and crude fiber. For mineral products, minimum and maximum guaranteed levels of calcium and salt are required. Minimum guaranteed levels must be listed for phosphorus, magnesium, magnesium, potassium, zinc, copper, selenium and vitamin A. If a nutrient is listed on the label, it is subject to testing by government agencies to ensure proper inclusion of the nutrient. Unless otherwise indicated with a maximum level, the product may contain higher levels of the nutrient than listed.

Feed Label

Feed Ingredients

This section lists the feed ingredients, typically in order of highest to lowest inclusion rate. Note that many manufactures will use general descriptive terms like grain products, plant protein products or forage products. The use of generalized terms allows the manufacturer the latitude to least-cost formulate the feed without having to reprint labels for each modified ration.

Feeding Directions

This is a set of instructions for how the feed or mineral should be fed to the animal, including how much to feed daily and, if needed, how to mix the mineral or feed with additional product to achieve the recommended intake rate. If the product contains medication, this section will typically indicate the concentration of the medication as well as the concentration of the medication to be delivered to the animal on a daily basis

Cautionary Statements

This section describes potential hazards for other classes of animals and species. Also, if you should adhere to a withdrawal period, it will be indicated here. If there are special mixing or handling considerations, it will also be listed in this section.


The name and location of the feed manufacturer is typically included in this section.

Net Weight

This is the total weight of the packaged product.

Note: You cannot determine the amount of net energy or total digestible nutrients (TDN) contained in the feed product from most labels. It is wise to have this discussion with your feed dealer since supplying adequate energy to the animal is as important as meeting protein, minerals and vitamin requirements.

Robert Wells, Ph.D., PAS joined the Noble Research Institute as a livestock consultant in 2005. He also serves as the Executive Director for the Integrity Beef Alliance, LLC. His areas of emphasis are forage-based beef cattle production and cow/calf nutrition, herd health programs, improving herd genetics, beef quality assurance, and value-added calf marketing programs. Wells grew up on a South Texas diversified farm and attained his Ph.D. from the University of Illinois. You can follow him on LinkedIn.