It Starts with Food for Energy!
Dairy cows are at work all day to make the milk that we drink, which is why we provide them with a balanced diet of various feeds. Proper nutrition keeps cows healthy and allows them to produce high quality milk. There are many different kinds of feed that dairy farmers feed their cows.
- Grass on Pastures
- Hay (dried grass or alfalfa)
- Feed grains (corn, barley, wheat and oats)
- Protein supplements
- Vitamins and minerals
- Silage (fermented crops such as grass, corn, and/or barley)
Cows have water and feed available to them at all times. They drink about a bathtub full of water and eat about 50 kilograms of food (or 1675 servings of cereal) a day. Want to learn more about what cows eat?
From Field to Table
Cows are known as ruminant animals because they have a unique stomach system, made up of 4 stomach compartments. This allows them to digest foods such as corn and hay more efficiently than animals with one stomach compartment, such as humans. Each stomach compartment has unique features, which helps to breakdown and absorb the digested food.
1. Food first goes into the rumen and reticulum.
2. Then the cow regurgitates a small amount of the food (called cud) so that she can chew it again into smaller, more digestible pieces.
3. The cud is then swallowed again and it goes into the third chamber – the omasum – where water and some nutrients are absorbed.
4. Then it moves into the fourth chamber – the abomasum (similar to our stomach) – where digestion actually occurs.
5. Udder and Teats
- Milk production occurs in the udder in four separate compartments.
- It takes a cow about 2 days to process the food into milk.
- The average cow produces 30 Lliters of milk a day.
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