Adequate nutrition is required for maintenance of normal reproduction in cattle. Albumin, the best marker and fundamental part of nutrition, most abundant plasma protein and major component of fetal bovine serum, is the best predictor of malnourishment in South African cattle. The aim of this study was to determine if serum albumin concentrations of donor cows predict the developmental competence of oocytes, and if additional protein supplementation of the in vitro culture media improves embryo outcomes in oocytes from cows with inadequate serum albumin concentrations. Oocytes (n = 1024) were recovered from donors with inadequate (≤35.9 g/L), or adequate serum albumin concentrations (≥36.0 g/L). Four hundred and sixty oocytes originated from cows with inadequate serum albumin and 564 from cows with adequate serum albumin. Oocytes of these cohorts were randomly allocated to a control and supplemented fetal bovine serum in vitro embryo culture protocol. Multiple linear, logistic and Poisson regression analyses were performed to estimate the effects of different covariates on linear, binary and count data respectively. Mixed effects Poisson regression was performed for the number of oocytes that developed into blastocysts by the seventh day of culture. Adequate serum albumin concentration of donor cows independently resulted in 46% increased blastocyst formation in the control protocol (P = 0.02). Although fetal bovine serum supplementation of the culture protocol did not affect blastocyst formation in oocytes originating from cows with inadequate serum albumin, it independently reduced blastocyst formation by 30% in oocytes originating from cows with adequate serum albumin (P = 0.02). Other independent predictors of blastocyst outcome included higher serum urea nitrogen, lower beta (β)-hydroxybutyric acid concentrations and lower fat classification of donor cows. It is concluded that adequate serum albumin of donor cows is a significant predictor of developmental competence of oocytes, and that in vitro supplementation of fetal bovine serum does not improve developmental competence of oocytes and can lead to negative blastocyst outcomes. Further research is required to determine optimal protein supplementation for oocytes originating from inadequately nourished cows.