How to make a total mixed ration

How to make a total mixed ration

When farming livestock, one of the most important things you need to know is how to provide your animals with the right food. Total Mixed Ration involves combining the right amount of forages, grains, protein feeds, minerals, vitamins and feed additives to a specific nutrient combination. This process allows your cattle to eat a balanced nutritional diet with every mouthful they consume. Outlined below is some useful advice on how to make a total mixed ration for your livestock.

What should be included in your mix?

Livestock, especially cattle, need different forages, grains, proteins, vitamins and minerals in their feed to keep them healthy and flourishing. Yout TMR mixture should contain enough of these to allow your animals to have a healthy mouthful every time. Before you load up your horizontal feed mixer, be sure you have measured these correctly.

The prescribed ratios are 55 percent forage, 20 percent corn, 15 percent protein, five percent cottonseed and 5 percent sugar source. This allows for a balanced TMR and ensures that cows and other livestock have enough energy, protein and vitamins in their diet. For milk producing dairy cows, a balanced TMR is vital to improved milk production and a better health.

What ingredients do you need?

Forages like corn silage provide the cows with energy and are a good source of protein carotene and calcium to help to improve milk production. Corn is a source of energy for the animals and provides roughage.

Proteins are important for animals in the same way that they are vital for human growth. Farmers can use a number of proteins for their animals, such as soybean meal, canola meal or dried distillers grains. Cottonseed is a fantastic source of fibre, protein, fat and energy and liquid feed supplements (such as molasses) provide a cow with necessary sugars and carbohydrates and keep the feed together.

What ingredients should I add first?

If you think of a total mixed ration in the same way you would think of a cake recipe, you will realise that it is best to add the dry ingredients first. Dry ingredients with a small particle size will stick to wet ingredients and create the mixture for your animals.

It is important to properly mix the dry ingredients together before adding the liquid feed supplements. It is easier to create the mixture this way because it will ensure an even distribution of all ingredients and because any feed mixer for sale is better suited for starting with dry ingredients rather than wet. Start with the forages and then move onto the corn and the cottonseed.

What equipment will I need?

The equipment you will need for a successful TMR system is as follows:



  • Storage system: You will need to have an effective storage solution for your feed, as it will need to stay dry and out of any humid conditions. Horizontal silos are useful for storing forages and other feeds.
  • Scales: Scales are important because you will need to weigh out the exact amount of ingredients to make the perfectly balanced mix for your livestock. An electronic digital readout scale is highly accurate and preferred for this feeding method.


  • Feed room: A feed room is where you will be mixing and storing some of the feed, and so should have enough space for manoeuvrability. It will contain the conveyors and mixing equipment needed for the operation.


The benefits of using TMR for your cattle

Using a total mixed ration system for you cattle has a number of benefits, outlined below.

  • It allows for improved feeding efficiency as each mouthful contains balanced ingredients.
  • It results in a stable environment for rumen microbes, offering the correct amount of carbohydrates and nitrogen for digestion.
  • It allows for better nutrient use due to different breakdown rates.
  • There is less chance of rumen digestive problems in cattle.
  • Milk production is increased by up to five percent on a TMR diet.

The disadvantages of using TMR for your cattle

There are disadvantages to almost every feeding system, and the disadvantages of TMR are outlined below:

  • The equipment needed for mixing a total mix ration can become expensive.
  • Over mixing can cause the feed to be ground too finely.
  • Under mixing can result in a less effective cattle feed.
  • An imbalanced diet mixture could result in underperforming cattle.
  • It is not economical for smaller herds.

Final thoughts

Using a total mixed ration feeding method will ensure that your livestock receives the optimum amount of vitamins, minerals and nutrition from their food. You will find that the ingredients for the feed are relatively simple and easy to find, and the mixing method is not complicated. You may have to calculate the exact amount of each element you need based on the size of your herd and how many of your cattle are close to calving or producing milk. It is an efficient method that can help to save you money in the long run.

Authored by: mjones

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