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Can Cows Eat Rice?

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If you own cows, you know that they eat an astounding amount of food. Finding alternative food sources to help keep cows fed during the winter months is the only way many small farms survive. Corn, oats, sweets, and breads are all great supplemental foods for cattle, but does rice fit the bill as well?

Can cows eat rice?

Cows are able to safely eat rice, but rice should only be fed in addition to their normal diet, not in place of it. Rice contains valuable nutrients that can give cows some extra energy and contribute to their overall health.

There are a variety of rice and rice byproducts that can be fed to cattle if it is needed.

A herd of cows grazing in a field

Rice is a popular food at our dinner table, but it is not often used on cattle farms. There are often better and cheaper foods like corn, oats, and breads to keep cows fed during the winter when grass is scarce.

Rice may not be popular with cattle farmers, but it does not mean that cows cannot eat certain kinds of rice from time to time.

Types of Rice Cows Can Eat

There are a few different types of rice and byproducts of rice that can be used in some way to help feed cattle.

Polished Rice

Polished rice is the same thing as white rice, which is just rice that has been milled and polished.

Milling removes the outer covering on the rice while polishing removes the bran (or brown) layer. Polished rice contains a low nutritional value, but cows can still eat it in moderation when needed.

Brown Rice

brown rice in wooden bowl and two spoons

Brown rice is rice that has been milled but not polished, which accounts for its brown appearance.

The brown is the bran that remains on the rice, and it contains a higher nutritional content than polished rice.

Rice Bran

Rice bran is the outside layer of rice grains. It can be harvested from the grain and can be fed as a supplement to cattle and other livestock.

It is full of fiber and antioxidants, all of which are extremely healthy for cattle. It is sometimes turned into an oil and combined with cattle feed as a nutritious additive.

Rice Hulls

Rice hulls, the coverings of rice, are ground up and fed to cattle in commercial feed.

Ground rice hulls do not contain a high level of nutritional value, but it is safe for cattle to eat.

Rice hulls contain some protein as well as fiber and are not completely absent of nutrition.

Rice Straw

Long row of black-and-white dairy cows while eating fresh hay in cowshed

Rice straw is what remains of the rice plant after it has been harvested. It is a dry forage that can be safely added to your cattle’s regular diet.

It does not contain a high nutritional level, but it can be safely eaten by cattle as a supplemental forage source.

Can Cows Eat Cooked Rice?

It is best to avoid feeding cooked rice to cattle. While cattle can eat a wide variety of foods, they typically do not consume cooked feeds. Cooking tends to take away the nutritional content of most foods.

To give your cattle the most nutritional value, rice is best fed to cattle raw and uncooked.

Can Cows Eat Raw Rice?

Cows can eat raw rice in moderation. Some farmers believe that feeding uncooked rice to cows is dangerous because it will expand in their stomach and kill the animal.

However, this belief is untrue even for small animals like birds.

Raw rice is safe for cattle to eat in limited quantities and not as a main food source. It should be fed along with their normal feed as a supplement.

Can Cows Eat Burnt Rice?

Cows can eat small amounts of burnt rice and remain healthy, but you should avoid feeding it to cattle.

Food that has been burned typically has little to no nutritional content because it has all been cooked away.

If a food source does not contribute to your cattle’s health or diet, then it is better suited for the trash can.

Is Rice Healthy for Cows?

Rice is healthy for cows as it contains fiber, antioxidants, and a small amount of protein. Rice should be fed along with forage such as hay or grass.

Cows need their regular diet of forage to maintain a healthy digestive system. It should be fed only in limited amounts, replacing or supplementing only a small part of their normal meals.  

Flat lay crunchy rice cakes on pink background

Can Cows Eat Rice Cakes?

Rice cakes are just brown rice that has been cooked and pressurized so that it can be shaped into a round cake.

Cows can eat rice cakes, but they do not contain many calories or nutrients.

In general, you should not feed your animals processed foods that have no nutritional value.

Can Cows Eat Rice Cereals?

Rice cereal is made of rice grains that have been cooked and popped. Cows can eat rice cereal, and some cattle owners even feed rice krispy treats to their herd as well!

While it may surprise some, cows are able to eat sugary foods safely and easily.

Final Thoughts

Cows can occasionally eat rice as a long as it does not take the place of their daily forage. Rice and rice byproducts like bran, hulls, and rice straw are not ideal sources of nutrients, but they do the job.

Almost every farmer has to find supplemental foods for their cows during the cold months, so if rice or rice products are available, just keep in mind that they are a valid option.