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11 Vegetables Cows Love to Eat

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Vegetables are an excellent source of many different vitamins and other nutrients. As with humans, cows also benefit significantly from a vegetable-rich diet.

However, offering your cows a wide range of veggies will do more than just boost their health; it will also make mealtimes more exciting.

What vegetables do cows love to eat? 

Vegetables like turnips, broccoli, cabbage, potatoes, and carrots are all popular choices for cows. And you can transform these tasty veggies into easy-to-prepare meals that are sure to keep your cows healthy and balanced. 

Read on to find out which veggies will keep your cows contented, how to prepare them, and why they are so good!

Herd of cows feeding on a dairy farm

A Cow’s Digestive System

Cows are herbivores, meaning they get most of their nutrition from plant sources. The teeth and digestive tract of a cow are tailor-made for eating greenery. 

Cows’ teeth are ideal for grinding vegetation due to their flat and blunt nature. And although cows have only one stomach, they have four separate compartments: the rumen, the reticulum, the omasum, and the abomasum. 

Because of their unique four-stomach digestive system, they can obtain all the nutrients they need from plant sources.

While eating, cows only chew for a short period of time before swallowing. The next stop for the meal is the rumen, the largest part of the stomach. 

A mature cow’s rumen is a 42-gallon tank containing food, water, and microorganisms. The rumen is responsible for the fermentation process before digestion in the intestines. At this stage, millions of different microorganisms work together to help the animal get the nutrients it needs from the food. 

When the rumen is full, the cow finds a place to lie down and relax while it waits for the rumen to empty. Then, it’s time to start eating again to refill the rumen.

Cow grazing in a field on a bright sunny day

What Do Cows Eat?

Cows are big animals that mostly eat grass and hay. They consume about 2% of their body weight daily. So, if a cow weighs a thousand pounds (453 kilograms), its daily dietary needs would be around twenty pounds (9 kilograms).

It’s worth noting that grass has a different nutritional profile at different times of the year. Sometimes the grass doesn’t have enough of the right nutrients for cows to stay healthy. This may occur after an unusually long winter or a dry spring or summer.

Grass and legumes like clover, lentils, alfalfa, and beans provide a balanced pasture. There is a higher protein content in legumes than in most grasses, and they can remain greener in times of environmental stress than some less nutritional pasture grasses.

Tips on How to Feed Cows Vegetables

Cows’ well-being and growth depend on nutrients found in various food types. Fresh fruits and vegetables are always welcome snacks for your cow.

However, vegetables and fruits should be considered a treat rather than a replacement for cows’ regular diet.

If you feed vegetables to cows, do so as part of a well-balanced diet; never substitute vegetables for their normal essential meal.

  1. Give the cows what they normally eat first, like hay, grass, or grains.
  2. Clean the vegetables well, so the dirt doesn’t take away from their nutritional value.
  3. You should only give fresh vegetables to your cows.
  4. It’s best to chop or crush vegetables before feeding them to cows to reduce the risk of choking.
  5. Feed in moderation. 
  6. Keep in mind that after vegetables have been chopped or crushed, their shelf life will shorten significantly.
  7. The vegetables you feed your cattle should be organic and free of pests, diseases, and chemicals.
  8. Last but not least, after feeding your cows a new diet, you should always watch them closely for any unusual reactions.

11 Vegetables Cows Love to Eat

1. Carrots

Fresh carrots on white wooden table

When the seasons change, many pastures become unavailable. Therefore, it’s necessary to have a simple and inexpensive way to supplement the cows’ diet with vitamins. Root vegetables contain less pesticide contamination, which is why carrots are safer than grasses.

But what makes carrots so special? Carrots are commonly available year-round, have a pleasant flavor, are affordable, and include several important nutrients. Overall, it is one of the best vegetables you can give your cows.

Carrots contain 84% digestible nutrients and 10% crude protein.

Carrots increase the body’s natural ability to fight infection, speed up wound healing, and keep the digestive system in good shape when eaten regularly.

Carrots are also high in beta-carotene, which aids in eye health and strengthens the body’s response to disease.

Carrots boost milk production and the percentage of beneficial fatty acids in cow’s milk. Because of this, cows expecting calves or nursing should eat carrots as part of their diet.

Remember that adding carrots is healthy but can’t be considered a cow’s main food source. Cows shouldn’t eat more than 33 pounds (15 kilograms) of carrots per day. 

2. Broccoli

Fresh raw broccoli on white wooden background

Broccoli is widely regarded as one of the healthiest veggies. Fiber, vitamin C, vitamin K, iron, and potassium are just a few of the many nutrients that broccoli is rich in. Additionally, it has more protein than most veggies.

Broccoli is another food that is high in antioxidants. Antioxidants help fight off free radicals that damage cells and lead to inflammation and disease.

This green vegetable helps keep your cow’s digestive system healthy and hydrated and lowers their risk of developing chronic diseases.

3. Tomatoes

Fresh cherry tomatoes on the table

Tomatoes are delicious and available year-round.

Vitamin K and vitamins B and E are particularly abundant in tomatoes. Tomatoes are also an excellent source of the powerful antioxidant lycopene.

They get their vivid red hue from it, which also shields them from the sun’s harmful rays. Interestingly, lycopene is also helpful in protecting cells in the animal’s body from damage.

The ideal time for feeding tomatoes to cows is when they have reached full ripeness. 

Remember that cows are sensitive to the toxicity of unripe tomatoes. In particular, the green parts of unripe tomatoes are poisonous to cows.

4. Cabbage

Fresh cabbage on wooden background

Cabbage leaves make an excellent cow treat. When it comes to this vegetable, cows are not fussy. All colors of cabbage leaves, from white to green to purple, are perfectly fine for cows to eat. Also, cabbage is easy for the rumen to digest.

Cabbage leaves are a rich source of many nutrients, including vitamins B6, B2, and K, fiber, and antioxidants.

On top of that, cabbage has a high moisture level, around 92%, making it a great treat for hot summer months because it can help keep your cows hydrated.

Cabbage can be used to feed dairy cows because of its high protein content. To increase milk production, dairy cows require a high-protein diet.

Keep in mind that feeding excessive amounts of cabbage to cattle might cause diarrhea and other digestive issues because of its high-water content.

5. Cauliflower

Fresh whole and little pieces of cauliflower on the table

Cauliflower is a dietary superfood filled with vitamins, minerals, and other beneficial molecules despite its pale-colored appearance.

Nutritionally, cauliflower excels in providing vitamins B, C, and K, as well as potassium, magnesium, phosphorus, and fiber.

Including cauliflower in your cow’s diet is great because it helps digestion and improves the animal’s general health.

To prevent choking, cut the cauliflower into small pieces before feeding it to cows.

6. Potatoes

Bunch of raw potatoes in a paper bag on grey stone background

Cows benefit greatly from eating potatoes. Potatoes have a medium protein and vitamin A content, but they are a good source of energy and taste good too. Energy-wise, they are on par with feed grains due to their high starch content.

Cows maintain excellent health if fed a balanced diet that includes grass, grains, potatoes, minerals, and vitamins.

Potatoes are also a high-water-content grain supplement. To cut costs, you may substitute the grains you normally buy for potatoes.

Cows can be given whole potatoes, diced potatoes, or crushed potatoes, but according to experts, each cow shouldn’t get more than 25 to 35 pounds per day.

Add potatoes to a cow’s diet gradually over two to three weeks. Also, be aware of the recommended intake of potatoes. If there are too many potatoes in daily dairy cow food, it could lead to milk fat depression.

It’s best to feed the cows washed potatoes that are mostly dirt-free but avoid green or sprouting potatoes. They are toxic to cattle due to high levels of glycoalkaloids.

7. Celery

Fresh pieces of celery in a glass bowl and on gray wooden background

The crunchy, crisp celery is full of healthy nutrients, including potassium, calcium, and vitamins, as well as powerful antioxidants.

Modest doses of celery in a cow’s diet can help boost the animal’s vitamin C levels and, in turn, make it less likely to get sick.

Celery has both soluble and insoluble fiber, which makes digestion go faster. It also has polysaccharides, which are known to help the stomach lining. Because it contains such nutrients, cattle are less likely to get ulcers after eating celery.

Water makes up around 95% of celery, so feeding it to cows is a great way to make sure they stay hydrated. However, due to its high moisture content, feeding cows excessive amounts of celery can lead to stomach issues, so moderation is key.

8. Turnips

Fresh purple turnip stacked on wooden gray background

All parts of the turnip plant are edible to cows, from the tasty roots to the healthy stems and leaves.

Turnips are an excellent source of several beneficial nutrients, including folate, calcium, potassium, copper, manganese, fiber, vitamins C, B, and protein.

It is common practice to feed turnips to dairy cows in the summer to encourage milk production. Turnips are a valuable food source for cattle, especially pregnant or nursing cows.

9. Pumpkins

Different color vibrant pumpkins on wooden background

Cows love pumpkins for their sweet pulp and sweet flavor.

Pumpkins are part of a big cucurbit family and come in wide varieties, including summer and winter squash, watermelons, and cantaloupes. All of these seasonal treats are perfectly fine to provide to your cows.

Protein-rich and energizing, pumpkins are a fantastic food choice.

This orange vegetable is one of the best-known sources of beta-carotene. Beta carotene is an antioxidant that gives many fruits and vegetables their bright orange color and is a source of vitamin A. 

Pumpkins are a fantastic choice for boosting your cows’ hydration levels. Water accounts for between 80% and 85% of the weight of a pumpkin.

Also, the pumpkin’s high fiber content makes it easier for animals to absorb and digest food. 

Pumpkins are a good source of extra nutrition in the low-quality grass season.

Adding other solutions, such as pumpkins, to the feed works wonderfully throughout the fall or after the fall season when the quality of grass is not the best.

Before giving pumpkins to cows, they should be cut up or scooped out so the animals can easily chew and swallow them without choking.

10. Zucchini

Fresh zucchini on brown paper from the market

Cattle need a varied and balanced diet, and zucchini provides essential nutrients and minerals.

Calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, and potassium are essential minerals in zucchini. Zucchini is also high in vitamins A, C, and K and folic acid.

Protein and calcium, both found in zucchini, are important for building and keeping strong bones and teeth. What’s more, zucchini is a significant source of fiber, which is essential for digestion and the absorption of nutrients by cows.

While cows can safely eat zucchini, excessive consumption has been linked to several health problems. Primarily because pesticides are frequently used in zucchini cultivation, and cows may be sensitive to them.

11. Cucumbers

Ripe fresh cucumbers on the table

Cucumbers are a great refreshing snack for your cows thanks to their high water and nutritional content.

Vitamins A, C, and B, folate, potassium, magnesium, and manganese, can all be found in green cucumbers.

Cows can benefit in various ways from eating cucumbers. In particular, they aid digestion due to the significant amount of fiber they contain. Vegetables with a lot of fiber help cattle digest food better and result in fewer stomach problems.

Cucumbers also help cows maintain their fluid levels because they are 96% water. This makes cucumbers a great treat for the hot summer months while helping cows stay hydrated and keep their body temperature low in heat.

Cucumbers are not harmful to cows, but if they eat too many, it can cause diarrhea. This is why a moderate supply is so important.

Closeup shot of a cow eating grass at the farm

Final Thoughts

Cows, like other ruminants, get the bulk of their nutrition from forage such as grass and hay. But if you want the best milk and meat from your cows, you must give them a diet rich in protein and other minerals.

That’s when the vitamin and mineral content of vegetables and fruits really stands out.

To keep your cows healthy, offer them fresh, high-quality vegetables. They should ideally be grown on organic farms.

When selecting veggies to feed your cow, consider their nutritional content, availability, and price on the local market. It is worthwhile purchasing veggies during their harvesting season, when large amounts are available at reasonable prices.

Always remember that vegetables should be added to a well-balanced diet and not used instead of the main feed.