Dairy cows, like humans, have certain nutritional needs to keep them healthy. Dairy farmers work with dairy nutritionists who create healthy, balanced diets that determine the best diet for health, age, milk production, and environmental sustainability.
Dairy cows have 24/7 access to a fresh buffet of food every day to keep them well-cared for. Many dairy farms feed their cows a total mixed ration, also known as TMR, which is like a baking recipe. When you make cookies, there are specific ingredients and amounts for the batch to be “balanced” and cooked correctly. Well, it is the same concept for cows. The ingredients used for cows might include corn silage, haylage, grain, soy meal, etc., and are weighed and mixed by a special mixing wagon.
Dairy cows are ruminants, with four distinct compartments in their stomachs to digest food. That means they can eat and unlock the energy and nutrients in foods we can’t eat. Up to 75% of a cow’s diet is not consumable by humans. Food companies, retailers, and restaurants can partner with dairy farms to recycle food scraps that are inedible to humans, avoiding landfills or incineration. Byproducts like citrus pulp, almond hulls, or spent grains from breweries can all be part of a dairy cow’s diet.
Cows are able to consume products that would otherwise be thrown away, and in return produce milk, which contains high-quality protein and several essential nutrients to help nourish people. Dairy cows really are the ultimate recyclers!
Fort Hills Farm