Meeting livestock nutritional requirements is extremely important in maintaining acceptable performance of neonatal, growing, finishing and breeding animals. From a practical standpoint, an optimal nutritional program should ensure adequate intakes of amino acids (both traditionally classified essential and nonessential), carbohydrates, fatty acids, minerals, and vitamins by animals through a supplementation program that corrects deficiencies in basal diets (e.g., corn- and soybean meal-based diets for swine; milk replacers for calves and lambs; and available forage for ruminants). Additionally, dietary supplementation with certain nutrients (e.g., arginine, glutamine, zinc, and conjugated linoleic acid) can regulate gene expression and key metabolic pathways to improve fertility, pregnancy outcome, immune function, neonatal survival and growth, feed efficiency, and meat quality. Overall, the proper balance of protein, energy, vitamins and all nutritionally important minerals in diets is needed to make a successful nutrition program that is both productive and economical. Both fundamental and applied research are required to meet this goal.
Also crucial to the nutrition program for animals is water. Livestock may have health problems resulting from substandard quality water. Consuming water is more important than consuming food. A successful livestock enterprise requires a good water supply, in terms both of quantity and quality. Safe supplies of water are absolutely essential for livestock. If livestock do not drink enough safe water every day, intake of feed (roughages and concentrates) will drop, production will fall and the livestock producer will lose money.