Do Cows Eat Grass: Why, How, Pros and Cons


Grass can be a pretty abundant feed option available for animals, especially if you have a lot of land. Nevertheless, you raise cattle and, as a result, you wonder if the grass is safe to give to them or not/ 

The grass is the best food source for cows. Their unique digestive system is suitable for them to consume plants. In addition to their natural grazing abilities, cows serve as natural lawn mowers on farms due to the ability to graze.

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Do Cows Just Eat Grass?

There is a common misconception among people that cows only eat grass most of their lives. But is that really true? Let’s figure it out. 

Cows eat grass for most of their lives, but hay, forage, grains, and seeds are also included in their diets. Apart from that, they also eat corn, fruits, potatoes, and vegetables. 

Although grass is a staple food of cows, cows are not that picky like humans or other animals when it comes to eating food. They enjoy eating different varieties and enjoy eating different fruits and vegetables and consider it as a treat. 

Why Do Cows Eat Grass?

In light of the fact that cows eat grass most of the time, it remains a mystery as to why they do so. Is it only because they are herbivores, or is it just because they like the taste of grass? Let’s discover. 

As an animal, cows don’t eat grass. They eat bacteria that grow on grass and ferment in their stomachs. The grass cows eat is just a nutrient source for their authentic meal – the bacteria growing on the grass. 

Bacteria gained by grass break down the difficult-to-digest cellulose in grass and give rise to various amino acids that help animals digest the food. 

The cow’s digestive system is specially adapted to digest grass, which consists of four compartments. This, along with her cud-chewing habits, allows her to eliminate digestive microbes and digest fibrous plants.

What Happens When a Cow Eat Grass? 

Cows eat grass primarily, but many are still unaware of what happens after they eat it. Are the grasses digested right after eating them or the other way around?

When cows eat grass, they swallow it without chewing it completely. After that, it breaks down in the rumen section of the stomach, and unchewed grass is sent back to the mouth for rechewing before completing digestion in the abomasum. 

How Does A Cow Get Energy From Eating Grass?

Considering the size and weight of cows, one wonders how they even obtain energy just from eating grass. Is that enough for them to eat only grass to get energy? Read on to know. 

A herbivore that eats grass uses fermentation to break down the plant molecules. Herbivores that consume grass use their stomachs or an area of their intestines to ferment plant material and get energy from that. 

After digesting the cellulose through fermentation, a chemical called volatile fatty acids is produced. The cow uses these fatty acids as its primary source -of energy.

 The rumen is home to millions of tiny organisms that help the cow digest grass that couldn’t otherwise be digested. These microorganisms then release nutrients into the rumen.

Is Grass Good For Cows? 

The grass is full of nutrition, and since cows are herbivores, they spend nearly half of their lives eating grass. But is that green, lush grass always good for your livestock? Let’s find out.

Eating grass is not always good for cows; for instance, there are various grasses such as lantana grass, ryegrass, button grass, and liver seed grass that are susceptible to nitrate poisoning in cows. 

Fresh grass clippings can be safely consumed by cattle as long as they consume them within 8 hours of being mowed. This is when fermentation occurs, and decomposition begins. During fermentation, cattle often avoid them, but once ensiled and sugars have been added, it is safe to consume. 

Can Cows Live Just on Hay?

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Hay is the dried form of grass and legumes used as a fodder to feed cows, especially when there is no fresh grass available, particularly during the winter months. But, whether cows can live just on hay is still a matter of concern for many. Let’s find this out. 

Since hay is a rich source of protein, it is enough for cows to stay healthy. There is 17% protein in the hay, .03 % phosphorus, and 2.4% potassium. In fact, in winters, when fresh grass is not available, hay is the only source of nutrition for cows. 

Can Cows Eat Green Grass?

Those lush green pastures look appetizing to cows, but are they also healthy for them? Does green grass provide nutritional value to cows? Do those green grasses pose any risk to cows?

In spite of the bright green grass’ appeal to cows, there is a risk. Warm weather-cold weather cycles increase potassium levels in plants, and overgrazing of lush green grass cows can cause bloating, tetany and diarrhea. 

When lactating and old cows gaze at young lush grass deficient in magnesium, grass tetany becomes more prevalent in these animals. These metabolic diseases can be deadly for your cattle. Thus, it is usually advised to avoid feeding them fresh green grass. 

Do Grass-Fed Cows Only Eat Grass?

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Although it is clear that grass-fed cows consume grass, are they the only animals to consume grass? What about grain-fed cows and others? Let’s take a close look at it.

Grass-fed cows graze on pastures, where they eat a variety of grasses. In fact, all types of cows eat grass, including the grain-fed. 

However, the cows that are only fed on grass are leaner than conventionally fed cows. 

Despite some cows being able to survive on grass alone, these are typically the non-lactating cows. Lactating dairy cows have a high metabolism, so they require other nutritious food than grass to stay healthy. 

Do Cows Eat Banana Skins?

You must have heard that bananas are a great alternative crop to feed cows when it’s hard to find hay or grass in the winter. You must be wondering whether cows eat bananas with or without skin? Let’s find out. 

Banana peels are equally beneficial to cows as the banana itself. This is because the peel contains crude fibres, which are incredibly healthy for the cow’s digestive system. In fact, cows love eating bananas with peeling to enhance the taste of bananas. 

In addition to eating bananas and their peels, cows also enjoy eating banana leaves as well as rotten bananas. Usually, bananas that are rotten but not rotten to the point of being poisonous are safe to consume. 

Also, because banana leaves have a high nutritional value, some cows can consume moderate amounts of them.

Can Cows Eat Cabbage?

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The fact that most cows enjoy eating vegetables and fruits, including cabbage, may surprise you. Doesn’t it? Now you probably wonder whether a cow can eat those vegetables. Let’s know this in detail.

The consumption of cabbage is perfectly healthy for cows. They do not cause any adverse effects on their health. A diet that includes cabbage enhances the performance of cows more than one that is strictly pasture-based. 

Can Cows Eat Pumpkins?

Cattle farmers frequently turn to alternatives like pumpkins that won’t adversely affect their cows’ health when the foliage becomes scarce in the winters. 

Cows love pumpkins, so they eat them often. Their palatability makes them a favourite snack for cows, and they don’t have any problem consuming them. You can cut the pumpkins into pieces for easier consumption if they’re a bit firm.

In addition, pumpkins provide a variety of benefits to cows; for instance, it improves digestion, helps to fight off worms and bacteria and also helps pregnant or lactating cows to stay healthy. 

However, consuming large quantities of pumpkin at one time may cause digestive issues. The pumpkin should be consumed in reasonable quantities by cows. 

Can Cows Eat Lemons? 

It is a known fact that citrus fruits such as oranges and grapefruit are also popular among cows. It makes us wonder if they also eat lemons or not? Let’s find out. 

Citrus fruit is an indispensable component of cows’ diets, and lemons are no exception. In addition to their taste, nutritional value and low cost, citrus byproducts are often fed to cattle. 

Fallen lemons from trees are, in fact, the favourite treat of cows and consumption of these are entirely safe for them. Animal experts advise that a cow can consume an intake of up to 20-30 kg of any citrus fruit. 

Can you Feed Tomatoes to Cows?

Tomatoes, which you frequently eat in your day-to-day existence, are enjoyed by animals as well, especially by cows. However, whether tomatoes are healthy for cows is still a matter of debate. Let’s find this out. 

As long as tomatoes are ripe, they are healthy for cattle. However, feeding unripe tomatoes can have a negative effect on their health because they contain tomatine, which can be the reason for diarrhoea and inflammation.

In spite of their high vitamin content, tomatoes are low in calcium. Using tomatoes in cattle feed should ensure a more balanced diet for the animals.

Do Cows Like Watermelon? 

This is the most unknown fact among people that cows can also eat various fruits apart from their food. But since watermelon is vast in size and consists of various seeds, you must wonder how cows will manage to eat that? Do cows even like watermelons or not? Let’s find out. 

Watermelon is undoubtedly a favourite treat for cows since it is soft and juicy, making it easy for them to eat and digest. Apart from this, watermelon is full of various vitamins and nutrients that make it a perfectly healthy treat for a cow. 

Not just the watermelon, the rind and seed of watermelon is full of nutrients and also healthy for cows, and they can easily digest them. However, watermelon is no substitute for a regular diet of cows and should only be given in moderation and should only be considered as a treat. 

Conclusion

Cows sometimes eat grass, but not always, so it is best to avoid feeding them lush green grass. Besides that, cows also love eating different types of food, including corn, hay, millets, and even fruits and vegetables like cabbage, lemons, oranges, bananas, and watermelon.

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