What to feed a cow?


Feeding a cow can be a simple or difficult process. If you know how to feed a cow and how to regulate the diet, you can improve the quality of meat, increase the milk production of the animal, its condition before calving, or help to recover even after very difficult birth. It is always difficult for a novice breeder to initially select a diet, adjust it as necessary. In this article, you can read about the nutritional characteristics of the animal, depending on the season, and the period of his life.

Feed for cows

Cow popcorn

The young breeder should immediately figure out what to feed the cow in order to make for it the most correct and complete diet. What does a cow eat?

  • Plant food - The basis of the diet of cattle. It can be coarse (hay, straw or chaff), juicy (roots, greens, silage), concentrates, they are also cereals. In summer, cows graze on pasture and can eat up to 100 kg of greens at a time. Hay is the second most important product in the summer, a cow consumes up to 10 kg per day. Straw or chaff give up to 5 kg per day, but before feeding, they are steamed so that they are soft. From root vegetables and vegetables are given: raw or boiled potatoes, pumpkin, watermelon feed, zucchini, carrots.

Important! Before feeding vegetables and root vegetables, you need to give them a few weeks to lie down, as freshly harvested, they lead to indigestion.

  • Compound feed or concentrates for cows are very important, as they provide the necessary amount of energy for normal life activity. Store feed is very expensive, but gives good results if given correctly. If the feed is done independently, then it is rather a grain mash. Grains are well crushed, flattened to simplify consumption. Also, this category of feed includes cake, bran and meal. Per day, cows are given up to 5 kg, not more! They have a lot of protein, fat, minerals and fiber.
  • Animal feed - this is whey, meat and bone meal, feed fat, dry milk collected. Due to the abundance of vitamins and minerals in such food, it is added to vegetable food. This increases its nutritional value, which positively affects the milkiness and increase in muscle mass in beef cows.
  • Premixes - These are vitamin and mineral supplements sold in stores. But here you can also include simple salt, which is mandatory, daily added to vegetable mash. But before you feed a cow with purchased premixes, you need to consult a veterinarian. With a balanced diet, they usually do not need, except that pregnant cows. Too much vitamins can be just as harmful as their lack.

What to feed a cow in winter?

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Feeding cows with hay

In winter, the diet of the cow varies greatly, because there is no fresh, plant-based food, such as green grass, which they eat during grazing. But this does not mean that they do not need it. The breeder’s task in the winter is to compensate the lack of green grass to the animal as much as possible. This can be done through haylage or root crops, premixes - those products that contain the maximum nutrients.

Important! So that the cow’s food is better absorbed, it is given 4 times a day in small portions in the winter and 2 times a day in the summer (morning and evening). During the day, the animal will find its own food on the pasture.

Before you feed a cow in the winter, you need to think about her diet.

  • The basis in the winter is always hay (15-20 kg).
  • The second most important in the winter are the roots and vegetables. Per day give 5-10 kg per head. Before feeding, they are cleaned and crushed to make it easier for the cow to eat, and so that no dirt accumulates in her stomach.
  • You can replace green grass with silage (up to 15 kg / day) or haylage. The latter is an expensive pleasure, especially in winter, but it contains a lot of nutrients that the animal needs during a cold season.

It is important! It is necessary to gradually move from a summer ration to a winter cow, as a sharp transition will have a negative effect on the stomach.

  • To keep the cattle from lacking protein or energy in the winter, good concentrated feeds are fed. You can spend money on feed, but it is too expensive, but a homemade mash made of good grain will be much cheaper. It is recommended to take barley, oats and wheat for the winter, as they have a high energy value.
  • To enrich the diet with protein and increase the nutritional value of the feed, rapeseed meal can be added. It also improves the milk production of cows.

Feeding a cow before calving

Pregnant cow

A pregnant cow (pregnant) needs a special, proper diet. Her food should include an abundance of vitamins, minerals. If you do not provide it with proper nutrition, the milkiness after calving will be reduced, the quality of milk is average, and the newborn calf may be too weak, because the share of nutrients consumed by the cow is transferred to him. But how to feed a cow before calving?

Important! During any period of development, especially during pregnancy or after childbirth, the cow needs to drink plenty of water. It should be at room temperature, fresh and clean.

The most important products during this period are: hay, straw, silage (it is possible and haylage), bran, pine meal, sunflower cake. From these products the menu of the animal is made. It also does not hurt to include more root vegetables and special vitamin premixes, especially in the winter period, but only a veterinarian should prescribe them!

Feeding cows after calving

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Calving cow

The period after calving is not only difficult for the calf, but also for the cow. If you treat the diet incorrectly, a lack of vitamins will lead to a decrease in milk production. The immunity of the cow will decline, because, as childbirth is a very strong physical test for the animal. And after them, the Burenka needs support, proper care, including a full-fledged diet, and drinking.

Important! The first few days after calving the cow’s food should be moderate so as not to disrupt the animal’s digestive tract. Milk is saturated with minerals and vitamins from the body's stock, accumulated during the dry period.

It is very important to monitor the amount of food fed after calving. If 10 liters of milk are produced from a cow, then it should eat at least 15 kg of food. But how to feed a cow after calving? On the first day after calving, only a little hay and warm water is given. The cow herself is unlikely to want to eat much, and even that, with her weakened body, will not be good for her. On the second day, bran and oatmeal mash are also given. From the third day you can already feed juicy food, and a week after calving the cow switches to the usual menu.

If a cow gives little milk, then she lacks certain substances. To increase milk production, cows need to be given more root crops. For example, to get 20 kg of milk a day, you need to give at least 18 kg of vegetables per day!