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    Tractor Supply Company

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    What are the different types of animal feed?

    A basic buyer’s guide to getting your animals the right nutrition

    Tractor Supply Company carries hundreds of different kinds of animal feed, with almost as many varieties and features as there are products. If you’re new to purchasing animal feed or animal feed supplements, the amount of choice can seem daunting, fortunately, most animal feed and feed supplements exist to simply ensure your animal or animals are getting the right amount of nutrition at the right stage of their life. You can work with a nutritionist, veterinarian, or trust your instincts as to which animal feeds or feed supplements will be right.

    What are you supplementing for? What do your animals need?

    This is the first, and most important question. Are you making up for low amount or low quality of forage? Is your animal exercising or needing to perform more vigorously? Does your animal have specific health needs, or are they having issues with digestion? You want to observe the basics of animal nutrition and purchase and supply feed and feed supplements to your animals intentionally.

    What is the life stage of your animal?

    When selecting an animal feed or feed supplement, pay attention to life stage indicators. Cattle feed can be specially formulated for calves, breeding, performance, or senior. Chickens have similar classifications. Horses have even more variables, with specially formulated feed for every life stage. If a feed is marked “adult” or “maintenance,” then this feed is designed for healthy adult animals. Feed marked “all stages” is good for just that.

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    What should I be looking for in animal feed?

    Making sure you’re meeting your animal’s nutrition requirements. This means making sure they are getting enough calories, enough protein, and the right vitamins and minerals so they can be as healthy as possible. Specific benefits, like aiding digestion, increasing egg quality (for chickens) or decreasing flies (for cows), are also available.

    What is the difference between pro-biotics and pre-biotics?

    Both exist to aid in digestion, and the two can supplement each other.

    • Probiotics are actual, living bacteria designed to increase the amount of “good bacteria” in the animal’s digestive system, thus aiding in digestion.
    • Prebiotics are specific plant fibers designed to act as “food” for the good bacteria. This means the good bacteria already in the animal’s stomach and can also mean the probiotics that are added.

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    What is the difference between “Natural,” “Organic,” and “non-GMO?”

    Organic is a specific definition from USDA. For something to be labeled “organic,” it has to be created free of pesticides and genetically-modified inputs. Non-GMO, on the other hand, simply means the product does not include any genetically modified products. In the case of animal feed, this can be referring to corn or other starches which may have been modified. Many farmers feel non-GMO feed is higher quality and improves animal health.


    All-natural often just means the product contains nothing artificial or synthetic, although there is no certifying agency or inspection a manufacturer must go through to use the label.

    Should I get a soy-free, or soy-based animal feed?

    This depends on your preferences and what you think will benefit your animals the most. Soy-based feeds are typically less expensive, but some animals may require feed without soy in order to get the best nutrition.

    How does fly control work in cattle feed?

    Fly control limits the ability of horn flies to lay eggs in cow manure, breaking their reproductive cycle and drastically reducing their numbers.

    What is “sweet feed?”

    Sweet feed is textured feed typically made of flaked corn, protein pellets and other energy sources. It usually has a healthy amount of molasses in the mixture to make it more palatable for your animal.

    How can I save on animal feed?

    Some of the best ways to maximize your cost efficiency is to plan, make sure you have adequate storage, and minimize waste. Buy what your animals need so you have it when they need it and get it to them at the right time.

    Additionally, Tractor Supply Company offers several programs to help you save on your animal feed costs. A TSC Subscription with home delivery will earn you 5% savings and free delivery on orders of $49 or more. Buying 20 or more of qualifying animal feed products earns a 5% discount, and you can earn up to 5% in rewards on bulk purchases if you use a TSC credit card.

    What does the number and percentage on animal feed indicate?

    The number and percentage indicates the amount of protein the feed contains.

    What are the different feed forms?

    Pellets are the most common. Pellets are a combination of grains and are usually small and easily digestible. Pellets endure a thermal manufacturing process, which locks in amino acids and other nutrients, which decreasing dust and waste. Another advantage of pellets is that they can be easily medicated.

    Other forms, like liquid, meal, mix, tub and granular, cubes and corn for cattle, depend on your animals dietary needs and preferences.