Nutritional disorders associated with high energy feeding


Source: National Farm Animal Care Council, Code of Practice for the Care and Handling of Beef Cattle Section 3.3.3

Nutritional disorders associated with high energy feeding include acidosis (grain overload), liver abscesses, and laminitis. In most cases, acidosis is the predisposing factor to liver abscesses and laminitis (20-22).

Acidosis is the result of a complex interaction among meal patterns and quantity, diet fermentability, ruminal microorganisms, and mechanisms of acid removal by the animal (23,24). Acute acidosis causes overt illness and is potentially fatal in cattle, whereas cattle with sub-acute acidosis may not appear sick but have reduced or variable feed intake and weight gain (25).


Design, implement, evaluate and adjust your feeding program to reduce the risk of nutrition-induced disorders, and consult your veterinarian or a nutritionist when needed.

Transition cattle from high-forage to high-energy rations gradually to avoid abrupt dietary changes.


  1. monitor feed bunks to assess prior consumption and adjust feeding accordingly (3)
  2. include forage of effective particle length in all diets to reduce sub-acute ruminal acidosis (3)
  3. consider adjusting rations to prevent digestive disorders when cattle feed intake is interrupted (due to storm, power outage, machinery breakdown, etc.) (3).


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