A cow’s menu is balanced.
Dairy cows have the ultimate healthy buffet, with access to feed and fresh water around the clock. A balanced and nutritious diet is key for cows to stay healthy and give high quality, wholesome and nutritious milk.
Dairy farmers often work with a nutritionist, feed supplier or a veterinarian for help maintaining this balance with the proper amounts of fiber, protein, and fat for a cow’s stage of life and the amount of milk they produce. The menu is thoughtfully prepared and includes hay, pasture, silage (chopped corn or grass that is fermented and retains a great deal of the nutrients present in the plant) grains, protein sources, vitamins and minerals.
Cows are also great recyclers and benefit from nutritious by-products of other industries. Some of these feed sources include sugar beet pulp; cotton seeds; soybean and canola meals; linseed and sunflower meals; distillers’ mash; rice bran and rice hulls; culled potatoes; potato peelings; and culled apples.
It sounds like a lot of food, and it is. Cows eat 75-100 pounds of food and drink about 25-50 gallons of water each day. (For perspective, picture three large bags of dog food and a bathtub full of water.)