Besides grass, people often add forage dietary plans with much other feedstuff in cows’ diet to increase production effectiveness. However, the nutrients in each type of food differ from each other so the farmer needs to consider carefully when feeding their cows. So, what do cows eat other than grass? And does that vegetation match the livestock dietary requirements? In this article, we will answer both of these questions and give you an insight into the cow diet.
Can cows survive on grass alone?
Absolutely yes. Some types of grass are nutritious enough to sufficiently sustain the requirements. And, there are cows relying solely on grass forage that can still produce great results in many areas.
However, this just happens on a small farm where owners cannot provide other necessary supplements for their mooing cattle. Well, this is a matter of cost efficiency as those supplements are quite expensive.
But, is this true to all cows?
There is a flagrant situation that cannot apply the only grass theory – the lactating cows and market cattle.
Lactating cows can not achieve successful production on a grass-based dietary plan. This type of cow needs higher levels of energy and protein which is not sufficient in grass forages. A solution for this is to make use of supplements such as hay or grain. According to many research, lactating cows and calves need neonatal vitamins and supplementary feed just like human mothers and children.
One thing to be noticed is that if owners choose to feed their cows this way, they have to expand the space because a limited area can not rear cattle on a grass base.
That’s why this grass-based dietary plan is not in favor of large-scale production where owners make profits on thousands of cattle. Also, gaining potential weight in the shortest period is the top priority of market cows. Meanwhile, feeding grass only easily leads to a deficiency in essential nutrients for growing cows to reach the ideal weight fast.
What else to be noticed when feeding cows only grass?
Many production systems are often based on cool-season perennial grasses, which have greater amounts of protein than western production systems, warm-season grasses. This means people need to think more about supplementation strategies that focused on getting more energy in the cows.
Corn, soyhulls, wheat middlings, gluten pellets, distillers’ grains, higher quality forage – those are the supplements we should focus on. The popular choice in supplements is the most cost-effective of them at a given time. The cost of these commodities changes throughout the year. Take advantage and buy individual commodities when you can, even if you’re buying small quantities.
Especially, do not overlook corn as a supplement. It is energy-dense and highly palatable. Poor quality hay can be improved significantly by 5 to 6 pounds of corn per cow per day. That would cost you 45 cents per cow per day. Additives should be given when grass gets too short (less than 4 inches average height across the entire pasture, not just the tall plants they refuse to eat).
Even when feeding your cow with the top-nutrient top grass, your cows are likely to be deficient in one or several certain nutrients. Therefore, to ensure a balanced diet, in addition to the grass, should add some other feeds.
What do cows eat other than grass?
A dairy cow’s diet often consists of around about 50% forage and 50% grains. Most of the forages are vegetation material that is fed as hay or fermented forage. This gives farmers opportunities to feed grass, legume, and corn-based forages year-round.
The most popular concentrates fed are corn and soybeans, along with by-product feeds like whole cottonseeds, citrus pulp, almond hulls, or soy hulls. Cows enjoy the diversity in their diets, and having a mix of both forage and concentrate allows this. Similar to human nutrition, we must provide the correct amounts and balance of nutrients.
Cows have four-compartment stomachs with a specialized one for fermentation. This fermentation vat is known as the rumen. In the rumen, all the bacteria help to digest the feed. This enables cows to obtain nutrition from feedstuffs that contain cellulose and fibrous material that humans and other animals cannot. This is one apprehension for the question of why cows can consume many by-products of feeds other than just grass.
Wrap it up
In short, cows can eat many things besides grass. The task of the producers is to decide the food wisely to make sure the servings satisfy the livestock’s demand. The more effort you made in choosing their food, the more success you achieve when raising them. I promise you if you be careful with this stage then the next stages in your production will be much easier.