What do dairy cows eat?


What does a cow eat?

In the summer months, cows are often out on the pasture and eat grass, we all know that much. But what do the animals eat besides a lot of grass? Clover, herbs, alfalfa, hay, straw, silage, carrots, fodder beet, grain meal and minerals in short. And the better the feed, the better the milk ...

Alfalfa is a crop from the legume family. It is grown worldwide as fodder.
Hay consists of air-dried, cut forage plants, i.e. H. mostly from grass, but also from clover or herbs, for example.
Straw, on the other hand, is a collective term for threshed and then dried stalks and stalks, in the broader sense of any field crops, in the narrower sense only of grain. It is not very nutritious for the cows as fodder and is used more as bedding for the barn.
Silage is high-quality green fodder preserved through lactic acid fermentation and has a slightly sour smell. Corn silage has the highest energy content due to its starch, followed by pure grass silage. Alfalfa or clover are high in protein but have less energy.
Grist is a coarsely chopped grist made primarily from grain.

As ruminants and pure herbivores, dairy cows must under no circumstances receive animal meal.

How much does a dairy cow eat and drink a day?

I have not yet found any clear figures about the eating habits of the animals, only that the animals eat 6 to 14 'meals' per day.

A cow consumes around 60 to 120 liters of water a day, some of which is already contained in the food. The cow uses the waterer three to ten times a day, taking an enormous gulp on her body, as she absorbs an average of 10 liters of water in half a minute.

The calculation that one kilogram of roast beef needs up to 100,000 liters of water is very interesting! The amount of water used to irrigate the fields, water the cattle and the water used during processing and transport are included in the calculation. The information on the amount of water varies greatly depending on the study. The last article I knew about the topic appeared in August 2006 in the magazine 'Der Spiegel'; there they speak of around 10,000 liters of water per kilogram of meat.

Even the cow has to ... The cow dung

Happy cows give good milk, they say. But who speaks of happy dung beetles? The cow produces eight to ten green-brown cow patties a day, which are about 30 cm in diameter and weigh up to two kilograms when wet. These are the habitat of numerous insects that ensure that the cakes disappear from the meadow again. For example, the dung beetle digs a system of tubes up to 50 centimeters deep under the flatbread. In small caves he stores a supply of dung balls there. The female places her eggs in between. The hatched larvae then feed on the food balls.

The first fly buzzes over the pile after just 15 seconds; after a minute there is already a lot of activity. If the beetles, flies and their larvae do a good job, a flatbread will disappear after about one to three months.

Because of its organic constituents, cow manure is used as a fertilizer in Central European agriculture; In addition, the methane produced during fermentation of this excrement in the absence of oxygen can be used to generate biogas. A cow dung contains so much energy that it can be used to generate 0.1 kilowatt hours of electricity.

In some tree-poor high mountain regions and plateaus in the Alps, Tibet, India and Turkey, cow dung was or is of considerable economic importance because it is used as heating material when dried.

Cow dung is also considered to be an excellent building material, either as an additive to building clay, or in its pure form in large areas of Africa as plaster for wattle huts. In India, fresh cow dung was traditionally used as a floor covering, especially in kitchens - it was said to have a cleaning effect. For this purpose, a thin layer of manure was applied daily to the clay floor of the room, which hardened after a short time to a hard and odorless surface.

The animal burping - air polluter No. 1?

You read that correctly, not only humans but also mammals, such as cattle and sheep, burp too. However, the main component of the gas mixture that is encountered is methane, which is a by-product of animal digestion. An average cow releases between 542 liters (in a barn) and 600 liters (in the open field) into the environment every day. In cattle, this mainly happens through flatulence (gasping) and burping. This means that the breeding cattle are one of the main causes of the greenhouse effect. Some Australian scientists are trying to develop an anti-methanogenic vaccine in Perth to minimize methane emissions from cattle.