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© 1985, The Board of Regents of the University of Nebraska on behalf of the University of Nebraska–Lincoln Extension. All rights reserved.


This NebGuide discusses feed additives, including how they work, feeding restrictions and feeding recommendations.

One of the best methods to reduce feed costs is through the use of feed additives. Their primary effects are to improve feed efficiency and/or daily gain. Some feed additives have secondary benefits which include reducing the incidence of acidosis, coccidiosis, and grain bloat, while others suppress estrus, reduce liver abscesses, or control foot rot problems.

Feed additives can be divided into five general categories: 1) ionophores; 2) antibiotics; 3) estrus suppressants; 4) buffers; and 5) others. Each feed additive has its own characteristics and feeding limitations. Some are approved to be fed in combination with others. Using the proper level of feed additives is very important because too high a level will decrease animal performance, especially with cattle on low-quality roughages.