Most people are surprised to learn that cows enjoy foods other than grass, hay, corn, or grain. Like us, cows enjoy a range of foods and are always excited to eat something different. Cattle owners have been known to feed their cows an array of vegetables and fruit, including bananas.
Do cows eat bananas? Yes!
Cows eat bananas and it is healthy for them! Bananas contain nutrients that cows can benefit from and they add extra calories to a cow’s normal diet. Bananas can be fed as a treat or in batches as a portion of their daily food regimen, but only in moderation.
All foods, apart from grass and hay, should only be fed to cows in limited amounts. Cows will often eat more than they need, causing them to not eat enough hay or grass. Bananas are a great alternative crop to feed cows and can help supplement them when extra hay or grass is hard to find.
Are Bananas Safe for Cows?
Yes! Bananas are safe for cows to eat. They are soft which make them easy for cows to chew. They do not contain anything that is toxic to cattle and they are grown naturally, making them even safer for cows than some other processed foods.
How Healthy Are Bananas for Cows?
Bananas are extremely healthy for cows. Bananas contain mostly water, which makes up around 80% of the fruit. They also contain simple sugars when ripe as well as some protein and vitamins including potassium.
Bananas are easy to digest, making them a perfect food to help supplement your cow’s diet. (source)
Can Cows Eat Banana Peels?
The peeling of a banana contains crude fiber which is beneficial for a cow’s digestive system. Cows can eat banana peels, but some cow owners remove the peeling first on bananas before feeding them.
Others do not remove the peeling from the banana and say their adult cows do not have any problems eating them. If bananas are going bad and the peeling is soft, then the cows can usually eat them with the peeling on.
Can Cows Eat Rotten Bananas
Rotten bananas are perfectly safe for cows to eat! In fact, in countries that produce bananas, cattle owners only feed rotten bananas to their cows. Their fresh bananas are eaten primarily by local people or exported to other countries. (source)
As a precaution, however, you should never feed cows overly rotten bananas that are fermented or covered in flies or fly larvae.
Can Cows Eat Banana Tree Leaves?
Cows can eat the leaves from a banana plant, but only in moderation and only with other vegetables. The leaves often contain little nutrient value and the energy needed to digest them often outweighs their contribution.
If the banana plant leaves are fed to cows, make sure you include other vegetables like sweet potatoes or a high-quality forage along with the leaves. (source)
How Many Bananas Can Cows Eat?
There is no real limit on how many bananas a cow can eat a day, but the major percentage of your cow’s diet should come from their normal forage like grass and hay.
Bananas should not take up a large portion of a cow’s daily food intake. You should also provide free-choice salt and minerals to your cows because they will help counter the high amount of potassium in the bananas.
What Other Fruits Can Cows Eat?
Cows can eat a variety of fruits if they are cut up into smaller pieces to make them easier to chew and swallow. Fruits like lemons, oranges, grapefruits are all safe for cows to eat, in moderation. (source)
Apples, peaches, watermelon, cantaloupe, and grapes are all safe for cows, but many cattle owners prefer removing the pit from fruits first.
What Fruits Should Cows Not Eat?
Cows should not be fed avocados because they can cause myocardial necrosis. The leaves on an avocado plant are said to be the most toxic, but the fruit can be toxic as well. The safest thing is to avoid feeding avocados to your cows altogether.
Using Bananas as Bait
Cows are often extremely motivated and once they get used a food and like it, it can be used as bait. Anytime that a cow gets out or needs to be moves, a recognizable food like bananas can be used to bait or lure the cow to follow their owners.
From a safe distance, or from the back of a truck or four-wheeler, a cattle owner can sometimes simply wave a banana at a cow to get it to move to where it needs to go.
5 Things to Keep in Mind
- Feed bananas and all supplemental food only in moderation.
- Forage should always make up most of a cow’s diet.
- Feed the peeling separately to make it easier for cows to eat.
- Monitor your cows for any negative changes after feeding bananas.
- Call your vet immediately if your cow’s health ever declines after eating bananas.
Cows can safely eat bananas and they will! Fresh bananas as well as rotten bananas make an excellent healthy treat for cows and they can even be fed as a part of a cow’s daily diet. Cows can eat a variety of fruits and vegetables, but it is best not to feed them avocados.