Can Cows Eat Rice?

Rice constitutes a significant amount of human dietary plans. In fact, it is considered as a staple food in some countries hence the ample production of the crop. Since it is rich in essential nutrients, the agricultural community has been aimed at finding out whether cows can eat rice as supplementary feed without adversely impacting on health, reproduction as well as production. The need for supplementary feed has been exacerbated by the increasing price of livestock feed making it difficult for farmers to sustain long term well-balanced dietary plans; hence the consideration of rice feed for cows. Results from research studies indicate that due to its high nutritional value, cows can feed on rice for improved performance.

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Nutritional Value

Currently the world’s agricultural community produces over 2 million tons of cereal straws which serves as ideal livestock feed. According to research studies, by products of rice are a rich source of essential nutrients needed by growing and mature livestock; therefore cows can feed on rice for improved performance. To add on, rice feed can be easily sustained for prolonged periods of time due to its ample production. That being said, it is of the essence for farmers to have some sort of understanding on its nutritional value prior to usage as feed for cows. This is generally done to ensure that rice is paired with complementary feed stuff thus maintaining the overall performance of livestock. Rice is said to be a rich source of crude fibre and crude protein with a total of approximately 15.5 MJ/kg dry matter. It also contains minerals that include calcium, phosphorus, sodium, zinc and copper. Its composition of potassium, manganese an iron is higher than some feed stuff. Cows can eat rice straw as a means of absorbing these nutrients.

Rice Supplement for Improved Performance

The nutritional value of rice feed is dependent on the form of by product used. Rice bran is a rich source of energy whereas rice straw is lacking in some essential nutrients and hardly contains protein. As such, farmers should make sure to combine this type of feed with relevant feedstuff to achieve a well-balanced dietary plan. Studies indicate that rough rice is quite nutritious and therefore can be used to substitute corn in finishing livestock. It is said that cows provided with a dietary plan containing rough rice tend to reach the target slaughter weight timeously if not earlier. For this reason, it is among the highly famed ingredients for fattening livestock. An upside to using rice as cattle feed is that it is palatable. However, although cows can eat rice for improve performance, it is recommended to combine the crop with nearly twice as much protein supplement such as cottonseed meal. This helps to produce satisfactory beef. Note that dietary plans consisting of solely rice have negative effects on the overall performance of cows. Since the crop is lacking in sufficient protein, feeding cows with rice would result in decreased milk production, poor bone and teeth development as well as stunted growth. Additionally, it is not advisable to offer livestock with cooked rice as their digestive system are not designed to handle such feedstuff. That being, if the crop is accompanied by complementary feed, cows can eat rice for the enhancement of production and productivity.

Rice Supplement for Health Maintenance

The productivity of the herd is of the utmost importance to any farming venture. This is because ill cows are less productive and therefore generate little or no income and in severe cases, debt is accumulated through veterinary treatment. As such, farmers are actively seeking for ways to keep cows safe from rampant diseases and infection. It used to be a common practise to make use of antibiotics for health sustenance but they have been banned in a number of countries. Alternative methods of maintaining animal health are thus very important.  Research studies point out that similar to humans, cows need constant supply of healthy feeds in order to strengthen their immune system. Rice mixed with soybean meal is an excellent source of nutrients needed to boost the immune system. Additionally, the trace elements found in rice are important for maintaining the long term health of cows. Therefore, cows can feed on rice supplements to absorb trace elements which helps to prevent the occurrence of health related issues in the long run.

Can Cows Eat Uncooked Rice?

Cows can eat rice so as to improve growth, reproduction as well as production. However, an important point to be aware of is that the dietary system of ruminants is not designed for cooked food. For this reason, cooked rice can be harmful to health. In severe cases, production can be compromised leading to reduced profits thereby threating the success of the agricultural venture. Some studies state that cows provided with cooked rice may suffer from bloat, especially when they are given large quantities. Experts concur and reveal that while cows can eat rice that is cooked in small amounts without experiencing any negative effects on digestion, this practise is not recommended. This is because cows may suffer from digestive issues which lead to bloat. As such, caution should be taken not to provide cows with cooked rice.

Which Food Is Best For Cows?

Although cows can feed on rice, it should not constitute a significant amount of their dietary plans. Uncooked rice can be harmful to health if given in excess. It is therefore of the utmost importance for farmers to be aware of the best food for cows so as to achieve increased productivity. The dietary system of cows is basically divided into 4 compartment to allow digestion of forage. For this reason, the ideal feed for cows should be made up of grass. According to research, forage is dived into 2 groups, namely: wet and dry. Wet forage is usually made up of barley, corn and fresh alfalfa while dry silage consist of hay. Some farmers prefer to combine dry and wet forage, for example hay and silage. The other half of the feed is called concentrates and usually contains all the essential nutrients. The best food for cows basically includes distillers’ grains, canola meal, soy hulls, oats, wheat and molasses.