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Animal Feed: What Are the 6 Nutrients Animals Need?

animal feed what are the 6 nutrients animals need

Do animals need nutrients in their diet? Just like any living being, animals need essential nutrients to live healthily and function well.

So, what are the six nutrients animals need? And how do you make sure they get all the essential nutrients in their animal feed?

This article shows the six nutrients animals need and the function of each nutrient.

You will also learn about animal feed requirements and how to ensure your livestock gets the right amount of food nutrients.

Human beings need five to six essential nutrients to survive and function. It’s no different when it comes to animals.

If you are raising livestock and planning on making your feed, there are several animal feeding and nutrition factors you need to consider.

You need to keep all the essential nutrients in check if you want your livestock to produce enough meat and eggs. 

animal feed full of important nutrients

What Are the 6 Nutrients Animals Need

Nutrition in animals is an essential aspect of raising livestock that most farmers take for granted.

Farm animals are often given any type of feed with or without regard to the animal nutrient requirements.

There are 6 essential nutrients that animals need to grow and thrive daily. The lack of nutrients could result in fatigue, sickness, and death for severe cases.

As responsible farmers, you don’t want that to happen. Hence, here are the 6 essential nutrients that you should include in your animal feed:


This nutrient is considered the primary source of energy for animals. It provides power to the cells, body tissues, and brain. 

Without carbohydrates, animals will weaken, and their organs won’t function properly.

Fortunately, there are plenty of plants and vegetables you can use as a source for this food nutrient.

How do animals obtain nutrients like carbohydrates? You can feed your livestock with bread, grains, starchy vegetables, and fruits. 

There are two types of carbohydrates: simple and complex. The simple type is less healthy and should be taken moderately.

A complex carbohydrate is one of the food nutrients that help body systems function properly. A few of the food sources that contain complex carbs include:

  • Oats
  • Whole grain bread
  • Barley
  • Vegetable
  • Brown rice
  • Fruits

Glucose is a popular component of carbohydrates that provides energy to animal tissues and boost milk production in the mammary gland. 

Since there are farm animals that need more carbohydrates than most, it’s best to make the food accessible at all times.

You can have them on free-range in a pasture or keep the trough full.

Carbohydrates take one-half to two-thirds of a livestock’s daily calorie consumption.

However, keep in mind not to overfeed with too many carbohydrates since it causes health and digestive issues in the long run.

Functions of Nutrients: Carbohydrates

Why is nutrition important for animals, especially carbohydrates? These essential nutrients perform a series of roles that help in the survival of your livestock, such as:

  • Regulate their digestive system 
  • Provide energy to function well throughout the day
  • Boost processes in the body systems 
  • Produce body heat that keeps them warm
  • Support in milk production among mammals

essential nutrients in cow feed

Lipids or Fat

When you talk about fat, it automatically relates to bad health. Animals need fats as essential nutrients to maintain a healthy body. 

As one of the 6 essential nutrients, fat becomes an energy source when consumed. Lipids are a broader group of substances to which the food nutrient, fat, belongs. 

Fat facilitates the absorption of soluble vitamins like vitamins A, D, E, and K. It also helps your body carry out its functions.

When it comes to animal nutrient requirements, make sure to feed your livestock with only healthy fats like those rich in omega-3.

Food choices for your livestock feed with good fat include:

  • Fish
  • Nuts
  • Seeds
  • Avocado
  • Vegetable oil

Nutrition in animals should be heavily observed, especially when adding fats. It’s best to avoid animal feeds high in saturated and trans fat. 

Functions of Nutrients: Fats

With healthy fats as part of the nutrition in animals, it will help your livestock with the following functions:

  • Build new cells
  • Regulate muscle movement
  • Facilitate in cell growth
  • Improve immune function
  • Allow better absorption of minerals and vitamins


This nutrient is a significant component for muscles, cell structure, and enzymes.

When digested, these essential nutrients are absorbed into the body and facilitate the development and repair of animal cells. 

Amino acids are the building blocks of protein. While the animal’s body synthesizes amino acids, they also need to be taken in through food sources like:

  • Fish meat
  • Beans
  • Legumes
  • Soy
  • Nuts
  • Grains
  • Eggs

Putting eggs can be a good source of nutrients in the food for chickens.

However, this is discouraged by some farmers since these birds may develop a habit of pecking at their eggs. 

Still, many seed and nut options have the essential nutrients you can give to your poultry and other livestock.

Functions of Nutrients: Proteins

Protein is a macronutrient among the 6 essential nutrients animals need. It has the primary role to:

  • Serve as a fuel source for tissues and cells when necessary
  • Form antibodies and other chemicals critical to keep the body healthy
  • Ensure the development, growth, and repair of muscles, fat, bones, skins, and hair/feathers

water as essential nutrients for animals


There is no need to question why water is one of the 6 essential nutrients. Any living being would need water to survive. 

Aside from keeping them hydrated, water is an essential nutrient that maintains homeostasis in your livestock’s body.

It also transports other nutrients to cells and throughout the entire body. 

Give your livestock water all the time. To maintain access and supply, you can have an automatic waterer or fill up the water containers ahead of time.

Even when you’re not strict with the animal feed requirements, you must always supply your livestock water. Remember that animals can survive only a few days without water.

Persistent dehydration may not only impair the daily functions of your farm animals, but it may also affect their egg and meat productivity. 

Functions of Nutrients: Water

As one of the essential nutrients, every animal would need water to function correctly. It also helps their body systems in more ways than one, which include:

  • Removing toxins out of the body
  • Transport nutrients into tissues and cells
  • Improve shock absorption
  • Prevent constipation
  • Regulate good bowel movement
  • Keep different parts of the body hydrated and lubricated


This organic compound is an essential aspect of animal feeding and nutrition.

It is highly encouraged to be consumed regularly by livestock to maintain good health and a well-functioning body.

Vitamins are micronutrients that boost the animal’s immune system and prevent disease. There are two types of vitamins: water-soluble and fat-soluble.

Water-soluble vitamins, such as vitamins C, B-1, B-12, and B6, are recommended to be consumed more frequently since fat-soluble vitamins are usually stored in the animal’s liver.

Among these essential nutrients, here are a few common vitamins and how they affect your livestock:

  • For good vision: Vitamin A
  • To regulate cellular respiration: Vitamin B
  • Aid in calcium absorption: Vitamin D

Functions of Nutrients: Vitamins

Going back to the question of what are the 6 nutrients animals need, vitamins shouldn’t be left out of the picture.

After all, these critical nutrients offer a wide range of health benefits, such as:

  • Improving body metabolism
  • Maintaining healthy skin
  • Strengthening bones 
  • Aiding in better egg production
  • Preventing any disease
  • Boosting the immune system
  • Supporting brain functioning

animal feed requirements in feed pellets


As one of the 6 essential nutrients, minerals help the cells to function correctly. These essential nutrients are consumed by animals, primarily from plants. 

Minerals are another type of micronutrient that also helps maintain the fluid inside the body.

Popular mineral food nutrients that animals need are calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, sulfur, potassium, sodium, chloride, and zinc. 

If you want to add any of these food nutrients into your livestock feed, you can choose among the following food source:

  • Salt
  • Leafy greens
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Fruits 
  • Whole grains
  • Beans
  • Legumes
  • Egg yolks

Functions of Nutrients: Minerals

Nutrition in animals is guaranteed when you put minerals on their diet. These essential nutrients aid in several cell activities along with different roles, like:

  • Strengthen bones and teeth
  • Carry oxygen throughout the body
  • Support the immune system
  • Prevent infection and combat stress

Vitamins Vs. Minerals: Know the Difference

When compared, vitamins are organic and can be broken down by external factors such as heat, acid, pressure, or air.

Minerals are inorganic that hold on to the chemical structure. They are absorbed by plants, soil, or water.

Now that you have the answers to what are the 6 nutrients animals need, you may have wondered what a nutrient is.

You’ve already read it a couple of times in this article, but what exactly are food nutrients?

what are the 6 nutrients animals need like pigs

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What are Nutrients? 

Nutrients in food are compounds that play an important role in the health and life of any living being. They provide energy to the animal’s body and facilitate the growth and repair of cells.

Animals require 6 essential nutrients to grow, develop, and reproduce.

Food nutrients are taken in, digested, and broken down so that they can be properly absorbed by the body.

Provide a sufficient amount of essential nutrients to your animal feed to ensure proper growth and productivity among your livestock.

Also, it gives you an extra advantage for both profit and consumption of meat and eggs. 

What is Animal Nutrition?

Anything that goes into the mouth of farm animals is digested, absorbed, and converted to energy to function well in daily activities.

But how do you make sure they get all the essential nutrients they need?

What is utilized by the livestock’s body are called nutrients?

If you’re wondering what animal nutrition is, then it is the process of animals getting these food nutrients for their health and growth.

Nutrition in animals should be consciously considered since it affects their daily drive.

You may have already known that there are 6 essential nutrients animals need, namely: carbohydrates, protein, fat, water, vitamins, and minerals. 

So, why is nutrition important for animals? Like any living being, they need it to survive, grow, and thrive. 

In livestock cases, nutrients in the food help them thrive, which later aids in producing meat and eggs.

However, remember that these food nutrients also need to be served appropriately to ensure optimal health. 

animal feed what are the 6 nutrients animals need like chickens

Animal Feed Requirements You Should Know About

When looking into animal nutrient requirements, you should ensure a balanced mixture of these food nutrients. A few other animal feed requirements include:

  • Minerals should be in appropriate quantities
  • The feed should have semi-laxative properties to ensure good bowel movement and prevent constipation
  • Avoid making sudden changes to your livestock feed
  • Nutrients in the food should be bulky and easily digestible

ALSO READ: Best Goat Feed – A Helpful Buying Guide 2021

How Do Animals Get Their Nutrients?

Most animals can naturally acquire these nutrients through concentrates and roughages.

These are major food groups where livestock can quickly get the 6 essential nutrients they need.

Concentrates refer to grains that are low in fiber and rich in energy. Roughages are rich in fiber and low in power, in which grass is a typical example.

What Are the 6 Nutrients Animals Need Our Final Thoughts

Animals need essential nutrients to grow and function properly. However, nutrition in animals is something that is not taken seriously.

Most farmers ignore proper animal feeding and nutrition, resulting in poor health and productivity. Hence, homesteads need to know what are the 6 nutrients animals need.

The 6 essential nutrients that your animals need are carbohydrates, protein, fat, water, vitamins, and minerals.

With these food nutrients present in every meal, you are sure to see your livestock growing healthily and happily. 

There are natural ways on how do animals obtain nutrients. But as farmers, there is more that you can do. 

To ensure that your livestock gets the best nutrition in animals, regularly feed them with a well-balanced meal. Make sure there’s plenty of water accessible at all times. 

Why is nutrition important for animals and do all this fuss? Essential nutrients play a significant role in your livestock, such as preventing diseases and improving their immune system. 

The last thing you want is to worry about your livestock because you neglected to give them the essential nutrients they need.

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Animal Feed- What Are the 6 Nutrients Animals Need

One thought on “Animal Feed: What Are the 6 Nutrients Animals Need?

  1. Great post! I had no idea that animals needed so many different nutrients to stay healthy. As someone who loves animals, it’s really important for me to understand what they need to thrive. Thanks for sharing this valuable information!

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