What Do Cows Eat?

Blog post

We tell y’all to drink milk because it is nutritious, of course. It gives us nine essential nutrients we need for a healthy body including calcium, vitamin D and protein. But why don’t we talk about what COWS eat to stay healthy and make all that nutritious milk? We’re gonna break it down here, because seriously cows are awesome animals.

Dairy farmers feed cows living in barns a mix of feed they call Total Mixed Ration, or TMR. It’s a little bit like a casserole for cows…LOL pass that “cow casserole please” said no one ever because we don’t eat the foods they eat! Shocker. That’s the cool thing about cows. They are super digesters because they have four parts to their stomach. They take things we cannot eat and through A LOT of digestion action, they not only get all of the nutrients out of the plants, they have a natural probiotic in their guts that turns carbohydrates into the high quality protein you find in milk.  These nutrients help them make the nutritious milk we dig.

Cows really help the planet by eating the by-products of food production that would have become landfill like corn silage, haylage, soy meal, distillers’ grain, and hay. For example, after the soybean oil is removed from a soybean, the leftover soy meal really has no other use, but cows can digest it and make milk from the nutrients. And in the cereal and beer capitals of Michigan, the ‘spent’ grain from making those products helps feed our cows.  In other states, cows eat almond hulls, orange peels and even eat damaged Skittles. But rest assured, a dairy nutritionist carefully makes sure “cow casserole” (yum) is balanced and these ‘extras’ are part of the energy, fiber and nutrient mix. Cool stuff.

What happens after cows eat their feed and make milk for us to drink? Well, they make manure! This manure has nutrients in it that are good for the soil, so some farmers use it to fertilize their fields before planting the crops. This is a cycle that’s good for the environment and us.

Learn more about how dairy farmers are taking care of us, the community, and the planet https://www.conquerwithmilk.org/dairy-farming-and-sustainability/

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