Do Cows Eat Meat: Are Cows Carnivores, Interesting Facts

Cows are an important part of the food chain and help maintain ecological balance. Let’s find out if they eat meat. 

Cows do not like eating meat, as their primary diet is composed of leaves, shrubs, and plants. They are herbivores who prefer grazing green land over eating meat. However, some farmers feed their cows, chickens, and eggs. While small quantities of meat do not pose a threat, large amounts can pose a health hazard.

People ask a lot of questions about cows and their typical diet. Let’s address all of them here. 

Image Credits: “Cows Grazing” by dbaron is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Do cows eat meat?

Cows are curious creatures with very specific requirements, be it food or environmental conditions. Let’s find out if they eat meat. 

Cows eat meat, even though they are primarily herbivores. Although they can chew meat and might even like it, meat isn’t good for their digestive system, especially if consumed in large quantities. Cows seldom eat meat on their own and do not hunt other animals for it either. 

It is essential for farmers to be aware of their cows’ dietary requirements and the negative impact excessive meat consumption can have on them. 

Can cows digest meat?

Cows need a balanced, nutrient-rich diet to thrive and function properly. But, can they digest meat? Let’s find out. 

Cows can digest meat in smaller quantities. However, if they’re fed meat regularly and in large amounts, it may pose a threat to their health. This is because cows are biologically made to consume plant-based food. Eating excess meat may cause organ malfunctioning, growth abnormalities, and other lifelong diseases.

Cows do not need to derive nutrients from meat since their body is designed to derive sustenance from plant-based food. Therefore, feeding meat to them is not necessary. 

What kind of meat do cows eat?

Interestingly, most of the meat consumption by cows happens involuntarily. Let’s learn more about this aspect. 

Cows enjoy eating eggs, carrions and have also been found to eat birds. They also eat insects that land on plants, and this is entirely involuntary. Some cows are also fed live chickens and other forms of meat by farmers, but cows seldom eat meat out of their own accord. 

A cow will usually look for foliage and greener pastures. Excessive meat consumption has a terrible impact on the health of cows.

What are some other animals that do not need meat?

Cows are not the only creatures in the animal kingdom that do not need meat for survival. Let’s learn about some other animals that do not require meat.

The list of herbivores in the animal world is surprisingly long. Aside from cows, some animals that are not meat-eaters include:

  • Horses
  • Elephants
  • Bisons
  • Gorillas
  • Rhinos
  • Talk
  • Deer
  • Hippos

We should mention here that some of these animals do get the occasional taste of meat. But, they are chiefly herbivores and do not eat meat to meet the nutritional requirements.

What is an ideal diet for cows?

It is important to feed cows a proper diet that ensures maximum productivity and health. Let’s check out what comprises an ideal diet for cows.

An ideal diet for cows includes grain that is mixed with corn silage and hay. Usually, farmers let the cows graze as they need at least 4 to 5 tonnes of forage annually. In a day, a typical dairy cow needs around 120 pounds of wet feed and approximately 50 pounds of dry matter. Cows that are lactating eat more.

It is essential to prove proper nourishment to the cows if you want them to be healthy and produce high quantities of milk. 

Are cows omnivores?

As most of us might already know, omnivores are animals that eat both animals and plants. However, do cows belong to this category? Let’s find out.

Cows are herbivores not omnivores. They do not eat animals but primarily derive their nourishment from bales of hay, grain, and corn silage. There are instances of cows being fed small quantities of meat, and while they can digest it, it is strongly recommended that cows should be fed a suitable diet.

A proper diet is of massive importance to ensure that your cows thrive and live up to their full potential. 

How does the digestive system of cows work?

As you already know, the digestive system of cows is primarily designed to deal with plant food. Let’s quickly learn about how it works. 

Cows have what is called the ruminant stomach, which is divided into four compartments. Here, the plant food eaten by the cow is digested and broken down by the rumen microbes to produce fatty acids, which are the primary source of energy for cows. However, these specialized compartments cannot break down the meat.

Rumination is an essential process that allows complete breakdown and digestion of food. As such, you can feed your cow roughage and tough grass, which they can digest with ease.

Are Highland cows omnivores?

Image Credits: “Grazing Highland cows” by Tambako the Jaguar is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0

Highland cows are a hardy Scottish breed that is characterized by their shaggy appearance. Let’s understand whether they are omnivores. 

Highland cows are primarily herbivores, although they are not picky when it comes to food. As a result of their varied choices, they are sometimes branded as scavengers. Their primary diet comprises hay, silage, straw, and cereal grains. However, they also eat poison ivy, tree leaves, and honeysuckle vines. 

Highland cows are adaptable animals that can consume anything with food value. As such, they can survive in poor pastures without any issues. 

Can highland cows digest meat?

Highland cows are hardy creatures who can survive in poor pastures and tough living conditions. But, can they digest meat? Let’s figure it out.

Highland cows, like other ruminants, eat meat. However, they eat small quantities of meat only when there are no other options available. Feeding them a diet primarily composed of meat can be detrimental to their health since their digestive system isn’t designed to break down large quantities of food. 

That being said, they eat a variety of plants, from tree leaves to shrubs, and can quickly clear entire forests when they’re hungry. 

Are dairy cows fed meat?

Image Credits: “Dairy Cows” by JamesAnderson95 is marked with CC0 1.0

It goes without saying that dairy cows need a proper diet to produce high-quality milk. So, are they fed meat for this? Let’s find out. 

Dairy cows are not fed large quantities of meat, as it might interfere with their digestive process. Instead, they are fed forage, grains, protein-rich food like soybean, mineral supplements, and corn stalks. Farmers feed dairy cows highly nutritious grass-like sorghum grasses or ryegrass to ensure they receive maximum benefits. 

Dairy cows need proper nourishment to produce good milk. However, meat is not a viable source of protein for cows like it is for humans.

Do cows eat snakes?

There is a common belief that animals like cows and horses eat snakes. Let’s explore the truth in this regard. 

Cows are herbivores and, therefore, do not eat snakes. However, there have been a few instances where cows have been found chewing on snakes. There has been much debate on the topic, and experts have various theories, but nothing concrete has been found in this regard. 

All in all, it is best to believe that cows are docile creatures who derive their main nutrition from plants. 

Do cows eat chicken?

There have been some instances of cows feeding on chickens and other animals. Let’s learn the truth behind this. 

Cows are primarily herbivores who do not eat chickens or any other animals. However, there has been an instance of cows who graze on phosphorus-deficient land, eating dead rabbits for the phosphorus found in their bones. Besides, some cows eat chickens if they have been trained to do so.

Despite being herbivores, cows do not always stick to their diet and can turn to meat, especially to derive minerals from them. However, these cases are rare and primarily happen if cows are not being fed a proper diet. 


Cows are wonderful, smart creatures who play a crucial role in sustaining the economy. They are responsible for beef and milk production and contribute immensely to the income of a country. Therefore, it is essential to cater to the requirements of cows and feed them a nutrient-dense diet. 

The bottom line is that cows are herbivores who do not need to derive nutrition from meat. Instead, they should be given a proper mixture of foliage, corn, grains, and hay. 

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