The key nutrients required by ruminants are water, metabolisable energy, protein, phosphorus, sulphur, sodium, calcium, vitamins, and trace minerals. The order in which these nutrients are listed is respective to their relative importance to the ruminant.
Protein meals are a valuable base for dry lick supplements and for inclusion in grain rations. Common high quality forms of protein meal are cottonseed meal and copra.
These protein meals provide a portion of bypass protein; this is not degraded in the rumen and passes into the small intestine where it is absorbed and utilised directly by the animal. The portion that is digested in the rumen is degraded over many hours, enabling a prolonged supply of protein (nitrogen) for microbial reproduction. More rumen microbes can then continue to breakdown pastures at a greater rate and over a longer period, hence increasing the animals?۪ overall daily pasture intake. An increase in pasture intake means that more energy and microbial protein become available to the animal.