Sponsored: Caring for the Cows
What do dairy cows feed on?
Bart Ramsey: They graze on grasses that we grow like ryegrass, bluegrass and fescue. In dry weather and from October to April that's not enough to provide them with the nutrients they need - they'd starve and not produce any milk if all they did was graze. We also feed them corn silage.
Did you know that technically corn is considered a grass? We bale alfalfa at 60 percent moisture and wrap it so it will ferment. It is inoculated during baling with a bacteria that produces lactic acid so the pH drops faster (this helps preserve the nutrients and prevents the growth of molds that will make cows sick.)
We also provide them with probiotics and spent brewers grains that are a by-product of beer making. Corn silage is an energy source, alfalfa is a protein source that also provides energy from neutral detergent fiber, and brewer's grain is a protein source that also provides energy from fat. It's important to keep the ratios consistent to keep the cows healthy. To make sure we have the nutrition of the cows right we consult with a Ph.D in ruminant nutrition from Purina.
Purina sells us a feed that balances everything out. It contains fine ground corn, soybean meal, bypass protein, cottonseed hulls, citrus pulp, minerals and vitamins. Brewer's grains, cottonseed hulls, and citrus pulp are feeds that would be thrown away but they produce food for humans when fed to cows.
“The cows are basically recycling machines.”
Leah McGrath, RDN, LDN
Ingles Markets Corporate Dietitian