Can Cows Eat Vegetables?

In recent years, the agricultural community has witnessed an increasing demand for livestock products. As a matter of fact, the world demand for milk and meat is estimated to increase to approximately 70% by the year 2050. In order for farmers to raise produce and meet this demand, there is need to provide livestock with a consistent supply of a well-balanced dietary plan. However, with the exorbitant costs of cow feed, most farmers are struggling to provide the necessary feedstuff. For this reason, a significant amount of resources have been directed towards conducting research on alternative feed sources that are just as effective. It has therefore been proven that cows can eat vegetables without experiencing any adverse effects on health and production.

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Nutrional Value

The nutritional value of vegetables depend on the type of plant in question. However, in general vegetables are highly famed for their superior vitamin and mineral content. They are also a source of carbohydrates and trace elements needed for the daily sustenance of cattle.  Vegetables contain a decent amount of diet fats including antioxidants usually in the form of phytochemicals, namely; carotenoids, phenolics as well as flavonoids. As such, cows can eat vegetables as a means to supplement their daily dietary plans and acquire nutrients needed for health and production sustenance. Note that despite the fact that cows can eat vegetables, some plants are known to be toxic to livestock hence should be avoided. That being said, it then becomes important for farmers to acquire a decent amount of knowledge on available vegetables prior to utilization as cow feed. In general, vegetables such as the green parts of tomatoes and potatoes are known to be toxic thus care should be taken not to provide livestock with unripe plants. On the same note, farmers should be aware that rations vary according to the type of vegetable. Also, it is advisable to only make use of vegetables as supplements; they should not be used as feed replacements.

Improved Performance

The physiological development of livestock is largely dependent on the type of feed they consume. Since vegetables are highly famed for their nutritional benefits, cows can eat vegetables so as to absorb minerals and nutrients needed for growth, development and production. Some vegetables contain crude protein which is commendable for improved performance. The protein found in vegetables is also essential for teeth, bone as well as muscle development. Farmers should be aware that while some vegetables such as broccoli are said to be rich in protein, others are deficient and so protein additives are recommended. Vegetables are also an excellent source of trace minerals which are necessary for energy metabolism as well as growth. Additionally, cows can eat vegetables to absorb vitamins needed for a stronger immune system. Cows that lack vitamins tend to be highly susceptible to diseases and infection thereby negatively impacting on physical development and production. Research findings indicate that cows with dietary plans consisting of vegetables have live body weight and daily weight gain that is higher in comparison to those on a strictly forage diet. They also produce an increased amount of milk yield that is of superior quality compared to their counterparts.

Health Maintenance

Cows can eat vegetables without experiencing any adverse effects on health and performance. As a matter of fact, vegetables help to enhance livestock health. Vegetables are an excellent source of vitamins needed to maintain the immune system. They also play a significant role in cell growth as well as reproductive health. Furthermore, vegetables are praised for their high mineral content that is essential for digestion and prevention of related health issues such as bloat. Research indicates that cows can eat vegetables in order to maintain healthy bones and prevent joint related disorders. Additionally, vegetables are important for the control of oxidative stress which is a rampant challenge within the agricultural community. Vegetables contain a number of bioactive compounds including flavonoids which are known to control the occurrence of oxidative stress and inflammation. According to experts, they are rich in measurable amounts of lutein and zeaxanthin including kaempferol among other compounds that inhibit or neutralise cell damage caused by free radicals. Some vegetables such as broccoli, lettuce and celery can be used as a natural replacement for antibiotics. This is valuable in countries where the usage of antibiotics has been banned.

What Vegetables Can Cows Not Eat?

Although cows can eat vegetables and are generally considered as healthy, some are not recommended for livestock. Some vegetables contain or accumulate chemicals that are poisonous to cows. The consequences of using such plants ranges from mild to highly toxic and in severe cases, health and production can be compromised. Brassica plants absorb a lot of nitrate; when mixed with haemoglobin in the blood, methaemoglobin is formed which is incapable of transmitting oxygen therefore causing suffocation and death. Brassica plants are well known for their toxicity in cows which leads to polioencephalomalacia, a brain disorder characterized by blindness, aimless wandering, lack of coordination, and twitching of ears, eyes, and skin. Additional signs include circling, convulsions, and death. Note that not all plants belonging to the Brassica family are toxic. Crops such as turnips, cabbage and spinach as well as sukuma wiki are considered as highly palatable. Cows should not be provided with plants from the nightshade family including potatoes, tomatoes and eggplants. This is because the green part of plants in this genus produce many toxic alkaloids, including solanine, in their leaves, fruit and tubers. These cause a range of health related issues including  pupillary dilation, ataxia, muscular weakness, restless, thrashing, changes in mentation, diarrhoea, haematochezia, anorexia, and hypersalivation.

Can Cows Eat Vegetable Scraps?

Cows can eat vegetables, including scraps as they are similarly nutritious and offer the same health benefits. The agricultural community produces a lot of vegetable waste that is often left to rot or as is the common practise, used as manure. Research studies indicate that vegetable scraps are a rich source of minerals and nutrients needed in the enhancement of physiological development and production levels.  However, despite the fact that cows can eat vegetables without any adverse effects on performance, care should be practised when providing vegetable scraps. They should not contain toxic materials such as the green parts of tomatoes or potatoes. Also, vegetable scraps comprising of onions and strong herbs are not recommended as they might affect the taste of the produce.