Most cows usually love eating vegetables and fruits yet they cannot eat all the fruits that humans eat, as some may be problematic to them health-wise and this may be severe. For the most part, cows eat hay although they love when given treats like corn, watermelon rinds, or apples.
Most foods that cows eat are good sources of protein which is used as the bodybuilding nutrient for cows and helps them with the production of high-quality milk. Other foods provide cows with minerals that are useful in the production of milk and the building of muscle.
On occasion though, cows love a good snack. They’ll eat just about anything but the sweet taste of in-season fruit will make them look forward to your visits to the pasture.
Cows can eat dehydrated or fresh fruits, ripe, cooked, or green. They can be either sliced, whole or with peels. Some common fruits that cows eat include watermelon, grapes, bananas, apples, blueberries, and grapefruits.
Cows can eat all parts of a watermelon including the rind, flesh and seeds.
In fact, most cows LOVE watermelon. You can feed it a variety of ways including straight from the garden, chilled, or even frozen on very hot days.
Having a picnic? Serve the watermelon flesh to your guests and give the rinds to your cows after, they’ll love you for it!
Watermelon provides the cow with nutrients such as Vitamins A, B6, C as well as Potassium. Its water content is high and helps in getting more fluids to the cow which is especially important during hot summer weather.
Bananas are a kind of fruit that is a great source of potassium and are economical hence highly recommended fruit for the cows. Bananas usually contains large amounts of vitamin B12 and vitamin B6 and high amounts of minerals such as potassium and magnesium.
Bananas provide a real boost to the immune system of the calves.
Bananas are safe for cows to eat. Cows can eat cooked, green dehydrated, ripe, or fresh bananas. They can eat them whole or sliced and with or without peels.
Be sure to check out our post on feeding cows bananas which includes ideas for using them as bait/encouragement to get cows to move into a new area.
Apples are safe to feed to cows and are rich in vitamin B-6, thiamin, riboflavin, and potassium. Apples fed to cows should be regulated and feeding of too much apples should be avoided because they may cause bloating or choking.
Usually, cows are fed on fallen apples and sometimes the half-fermented apples in order to reduce the risk of bloated stomach. The apples can either be mashed or broken into small pieces for best feeding. Feeding your cows fermented apples aids proper digestion and regulates stomach pH.
Carrots can be a great treat for cows, but be sure to wash and store the carrots for at least two weeks before feeding them to your cows. This will after they have been harvested, washed and stored for an approximation of two weeks. Along with feeding moderation, this will help limit the risk of scouring (or diarrhea) from the water and fiber content.
Carrots are great for a cow’s diet since they contain butter oil, a fat-soluble antioxidant source that provides essential beta carotene. Carrots are also an excellent source of fiber and protein, and they are rich in potassium, calcium, and iron.
Carrots also provide vitamins that support healthy development in cows including Vitamin C, Vitamin K, and Vitamin A.
Remember to feed carrots to your cows at ground level. Cows are predisposed to choking, and the carrots’ shape and texture can make them difficult to chew and swallow properly if fed differently.
Cows can eat mango in a number of forms: peels, dried, fresh, fallen from a tree, ensiled…they can even eat the seeds! Mango peels include a number of beneficial vitamins and nutrients but can also retain pesticides on the surface. Be sure to consider where your mangoes were grown and how they were treated before feeding the peels to your cows.
Mangoes are high in sugar content and can provide extra energy when mixed in feed. Mangoes do not contain a lot of protein, so it is important that cows are fed a balanced diet so they can get protein from other food sources.
Oranges make a great snack for cows! They love these sweet, tasty treats, and oranges happen to be extremely rich in vitamins and nutrients.
Feeding cows oranges helps integrate fiber in their diet while also supporting proper antimicrobial growth in their digestive tract. Orange peels contain essential oils, such as d-limonene, that support healthy digestion and kill off harmful bacteria.
Oranges also contain large amounts of Vitamin C and are a source of thiamine, potassium, and folate.
Cows love pineapple and can eat the entire fruit…including the top and right down through the rind. Pineapples have a high sugar content and should be fed to cows in moderation as part of a balanced diet. Make sure to always use fresh pineapple – canned pineapple contains too many processed and added sugars.
Pineapples also help boost a cow’s immune system. They have high levels of Vitamin C and manganese to support health. Pineapples also have a good fiber content to help healthy digestion.
Cows eating kiwis? Absolutely! Cows can benefit from the nutrients in kiwi fruit when eaten in moderation and when the fruit is not overripened. Cows can become very sick if eating kiwi that is overripe (where the sugars do not break down right) or that is not stored properly.
Kiwi naturally include Vitamin K, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Potassium, and folate…all of which support healthy growth and development in animals.
Just be sure to mix the kiwis with other feed on the ground to prevent digestive and choking risk. Their small size can make them difficult for cows to chew properly.
Strawberries are safe for cows to eat, and farmers often feed cows left over strawberries in order to reduce waste. Like many fruits, strawberries have a high sugar content, so they should be given to cows in moderation.
Strawberries are a good source of Vitamin C and manganese and even contain traces of Vitamin B9 and potassium. They are also rich in antioxidants not found in hay or other traditional feed, and this can help support a cow’s immune system.
Cows can eat grapefruits and are often fed fallen grapefruits that are easier to digest. Grapefruits provide cows with small amounts of proteins, phosphorous, and calcium. Like with other citrus fruits, cows can gain benefits from Vitamin C in grapefruit.
When feeding grapefruit to your cows, be sure to cut the fruit into smaller pieces. Large or whole grapefruit can become a choking hazard or cause an intestinal blockage if not chewed properly.
Leftover or broken pumpkins? You can feed them to your cows! Cows can usually figure out how to break into pumpkins on their own, and it is safe for them to eat the entire vegetable.
Pumpkins include a balance of high water content and fiber that help them become more easily digested. They are also a decent source of protein and supplement for cows that eat mainly on dry hay or feed. Pumpkins also provide valuable Vitamin A, E, and folate to support healthy vision and bone growth.
Cows can safely eat raspberries, including the stem and leaves, along with other brambles. Many farmers will allow their cows to graze on their bramble bushes to help naturally cut back on the sometimes invasive plants.
Raspberries are also nutritionally beneficial with high Vitamin A levels. The stems and stalks from the raspberry (and other bramble) bushes also provide high dietary fiber.
Adding grapes to your cows’ diet won’t harm them, but grapes should be included with other feed to reduce bloat. Grapes and grape by products (such as stems or pulp) are great for mixing into feed. They can add Vitamin C and Vitamin A for healthy immune support.
Added benefit: while eating too many grapes (or too much of any one type of food) can cause bloat in cows, eating grapes in a balanced diet can reduce how much methane gas they release.
Ripened plums are safe for cows to eat. Since stone fruits have large, hard pits, cutting the fruit up and removing the pits is the safest way to add plums to a cow’s diet.
Plums are rich in Vitamins K, C, A, and B1. They also have high levels of zinc, magnesium, and calcium which support proper development and bone strength.
Make sure you do not feed any other part of the plum tree to your cows! All other parts of the plum tree can be poisonous to your cows and other livestock. Plum trees produce cyanide compounds that are toxic to animals.
Blueberries can be a valuable addition to a cow’s diet. Blueberries provide a number of antioxidants, as well as potassium and Vitamin C, that are beneficial to for maintaining good health. As always, blueberries and other fruits should be included as part of a balanced diet.
Blueberries have also been shown to increase natural glucose in cows, giving them more natural energy. This can help support milk production by supplementing energy and increasing milk yield.
Tomatoes can be safe for cows but should be carefully selected and provided to ensure the correct ripeness. Unripe tomatoes can be toxic to cows since they contain tomatine, which can cause diarrhea and inflammation.
Tomatoes are high in Vitamins A, B1, B5, K, and C, but they have low amounts of calcium. Tomatoes should be incorporated as part of a more balanced diet if used in cow feed.
Cows can eat pears that are either fresh or dried. Pears have a high moisture content, so be sure to balance the rest of their diet with dry feed and monitor how much they eat. If cows eat too much of a food with a lot of water, they will not have the hunger (or the stomach room) to eat other foods and balance their diet.
Pears can also overripen and turn bad quickly, so be sure that you only feed pears that are not moldy to your cows.
Fruits That Are Not Safe For Cows
Cherries, especially wild cherries, are dangerous to cows. Cherries and cherry trees naturally produce high levels of cyanide which is toxic to cows. When planning on cow grazing pastures, you can reduce risk by cutting back cherry trees to prevent accidental consumption.
Apricots are also unsafe to feed to cows. Apricots are also associated with cyanide poisoning. While the tree, branches, and leaves are all known toxin producers, the pit or stone in the apricot has also been found to contain the toxin. Cyanide deprives animals of oxygen and can often lead to death.