If You Give a Cow a Cookie

I was blanking on something fun to write about when I remembered a conversation about if cows like chocolate from a few weeks ago.  I figured it was time to properly address the topic and share it with everyone. 

First we’ll start with some background information then we’ll get to the fun part (chocolate, cookies, and beer).  There are people that have spent many years researching exactly what the nutrient requirements of cows are.  There is even a book put out by the National Research Council in 2001 called the Nutrient Requirements of Dairy Cattle.  It provides guidelines for what the nutrient requirements are for a cow at different stages in her life and her lactation as well as helping to account for breed and size.  There are also several different modeling programs that help build rations for cows.

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All in all we have a fairly good understanding of what a cow needs in her diet to perform optimally (we’ve even started balancing for limiting amino acids).  Most cows eat a more balanced diet than most people.  It’s definitely better than mine.

So now you’re thinking “he baited me in with cookies and chocolate and now he’s talking about amino acids.”

Don’t worry the fun stuff is up next.

You’ve probably wondered what happens with all the waste from making bakery products, chocolate bars, beer, and other assorted foods.  It’s not like the leftover stuff is spoiled it is simply excess to the requirements of creating our food.  There are actually some farmers out there who feed these byproducts to their cows.  They take a sample and have it tested to determine what nutrients it contains and how consistent it is between different loads (cows eat a lot).  Then it gets added to the diet for the cows. 

If you visit a farm near a brewery they may feed what’s known as brewers’ grains.  This is the stuff that is left over from making beer.  You probably wouldn’t want to eat it (no alcohol) but cows love it.  Down around Hershey, PA there are farmers that feed their cows leftover chocolate from the Hershey factory.  There are even farms that feed cows pasta and cookies. 

  Byproduct feeds are often fairly inexpensive and help to save farmers money.  So if you feed a cow cookies she’ll turn them into milk.  Just don’t feed her just cookies, they’re like humans and need a good balanced diet.