Tag Archives: cow feed

Food for Thought: Would You Eat What Cows Eat?

“Why do we give food to cows that could be used to feed people?”

Through this new video we produced with Oregon dairy farmer Derrick Josi (aka TDF Honest Farming), we’re answering this relatively common question by serving up a full helping of facts about what cows eat.

We’re always working to address confusion and misconceptions about dairy. With more than 400,000 views and counting, the video has started some beneficial and enlightening conversations on social media about food byproducts, ruminant digestion, animal nutrition, crop rotation, marginal agricultural land and more.

If you haven’t seen it yet, watch the video, and you’ll see it provides some good food for thought.

Much of cow feed is actually comprised of byproducts from producing food for humans. We can’t digest some of the food that ruminants like cows can. They upcycle feed that might otherwise go to waste, and they turn it into milk, which makes the dairy products that we enjoy.

Additionally, much of the land where cows are located is not ideal or even viable for other crops. “Two thirds of the world’s agricultural land is marginal, which means it cannot be used to grow crops because the soil is not sufficient or there’s not enough water,” says Dr. Frank Mitloehner, Department of Animal Science at the University of California, Davis. “We have to use that land for ruminant livestock, because it’s the only way to use it.”

Watch for upcoming videos addressing some other questions and misconceptions about dairy. If you’d like us to tackle one of your questions, just let us know!


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Cows Set a Good Example for National Nutrition Month

by Josie Oleson
Graduate Student in Clinical Nutrition
Oregon Health & Science University

As a student of nutrition, I know a lot about what people eat. It wasn’t until I visited a dairy farm that I learned what cows eat and how well they eat while producing the milk and dairy products we love. During my time on the farm, I discovered three ways that cows set a good example for the rest of us during National Nutrition Month and beyond.

#1: Cows have nutritionists

When was the last time you saw a dietitian? Cow nutritionists visit dairy farms regularly and observe the herds, analyze the nutritional quality of their feed, and see how much milk the cows are producing. Using that information, a cow nutritionist can change the components of their feed to make the herd as healthy as possible.

#2: Cows follow tailored diets

Cows get a specific mix of grasses, grains, and byproducts from food processing to support a balanced diet. Cow nutritionists ensure the feed ingredients are in the right amounts for optimal cow health and milk production.

What happens if the cows get off track? Here’s Derrick Josi from Wilsonview Dairy having a talk with his Jersey cows about the importance of following a nutritious diet and not eating empty calories.

#3: Cows eat a lot of fiber

Almond hulls and citrus pulp are some of the byproducts from food production that are added to cow feed. Humans can’t digest these things, yet they are full of fiber and other nutrients. Instead of going to waste, cows can digest them and convert them into nutritious milk.

These are just a few of the ways cows stay at their best thanks to a healthy diet. Dairy farmers and their nutritionists are helping keep their herds healthy, making milk more efficiently, and managing their farms more sustainably.