Total Mixed Ration vs. Pasture


Total Mixed Ration or Pasture feeding? Deciding on the best method of cattle feeding will have long-term effects on your farm’s profitability. It’s important to go with the most effective option for your farm early. Two of the most prominent feeding systems are the Total Mixed Ration (TMR) and pasture, which have many differences. Here’s a brief outline of the two methods and some factors to consider.

What is a Total Mixed Ration (TMR)?

A Total Mixed Ration is a cattle feeding method that combines forages, grains, protein feeds, minerals, vitamins and feed additives. These ingredients are formulated to a specific nutrient concentration, all in a single feed mix.

Advantages of a TMR Feeding System

    • TMR allows for improved feeding efficiency because each mouthful contains balanced ingredients.
    • The balance results in a stable environment for rumen microbes, offering the right amount of carbohydrates and nitrogen needed for digestion.
    • There are different rates of breakdown because of the various feeds, allowing for better nutrient use.
    • Forage is fed with concentrate rather than separately, this to reduce the chance of rumen digestive problems.
    • There’s a greater variety of by-product feeds, which allows for ration cost savings.
    • A decrease in digestive and metabolic problems.
    • An increase of up to 5% in milk production compared to conventional rations.
    • Provides greater accuracy in the formulation and feeding when well managed.
    • TMR is well adapted to mechanisation with a mixer wagon or stationary mixer with conveyors or mobile feeders.
    • Commodity ingredients, which are often less expensive in bulk order can be fed in a TMR diet.
  • Flavours of less palatable feeds are masked.

Disadvantages of a TMR Feeding System

    • The TMR mixing devices needed for the ration will include costs related to equipment and maintenance.
    • Over mixing could cause grinding and pulverizing the feed.
    • Under mixing can result in a less effective feed for cattle.
    • Accurate weighing – using particular calibrated scale is essential.
    • An imbalance in the diet may result in reduced performance by the cattle.
    • Some housing and feeding facilities are not well suited to the TMR system.
  • It might not be economical for smaller herds to use TMR feeding.

What is pasture fed?

Pasture-raised cattle receive a large portion of their nutritional intake from organically-managed pasture and stored-dried forages. They may also receive supplemental organic grains, both during the grazing season into winter months, which can include corn, soy, oats, barley, and triticale, among others. The cattle might also receive mineral supplements.

Advantages of pasture  

  • Pastured animals provide humans with more health-enhancing, disease-fighting materials than industrial-grade concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs).
  • Grass is the cheapest feed available so systems incorporating pasture are less costly.
  • Because of the lower cost, there is typically a higher profitability when compared with a similar herd size in confined systems.
  • There is increased health for the cattle – fewer instances of lameness or mastitis.
  • There is increased performance and fertility.
  • There is improved milk composition.
  • There are fewer environmental impacts.

Disadvantages of pasture

The downside of pasture is mostly related to the establishment:

    • There is a possibility of erosion.
    • There are high costs involved.
  • It uses extensive labour.

It’s important to assess various elements such as herd size, location, weather and costs before deciding on the best feeding method. There is also the possibility of implementing a ‘partial’ TMR, which could prove more beneficial for the herd, rather than opting for just one method.

For more information on feeding, pasture and tillage equipment, contact Radium Engineering. With years of expertise, a passion for the agricultural industry and a commitment to manufacturing superior equipment, Radium Engineering is the answer to all your farming and agricultural and tillage equipment needs.