If you’ve seen a cow eat before, then you’ve probably realized how hard they chew up whatever they’re eating. Most of the time people want to know if cows eat carrots because they are interested in growing carrot crops and would like to know if cows will eat them. Let us look at the facts.
Can cows eat carrots? Yes, cows can safely consume carrots. Carrots are sweet, crunchy, highly nutritious, and safe to feed to cows. Both the tops and roots of carrots are edible to cows. However, cows should only eat carrots that are two to three weeks old to avoid the risk of scours.
Cows are fond of most root vegetables, and carrots happen to be one of their favorites. The juicy crunchiness of the carrot makes it one of their favorite root vegetables. Carrots are rich in beta-carotene, making them a valuable nutritional food source for cows. They’re also high in fiber as well as vitamins and minerals such as magnesium, riboflavin, potassium, folic acid, and iron. However, don’t feed them fresh carrots as this may cause scours.
In this article, we will cover all aspects of feeding carrots to cows: their nutritional values, health benefits, edibility of the tops, carrots for calves, and more.
Are carrots healthy for cows?
To determine whether carrots are healthy for your pet ruminants, you must have a basic understanding idea of their nutritional value.
To help you with it, we have curated a table of their nutritional composition below. Take a look:
|Vitamin A||835 IU|
|Thiamine (Vitamin B1)||0.066 mg|
|Riboflavin (Vitamin B2)||0.058 mg|
|Niacin (Vitamin B3)||0.983 mg|
|Choline (Vitamin B4)||8.8 mg|
|Pantothenic acid (Vitamin B5)||0.273 mg|
|Pyridoxine (Vitamin B6)||0.138 mg|
|Vitamin C||5.9 mg|
|Vitamin E||0.66 mg|
|Potassium, K||320 mg|
|Calcium, Ca||33 mg|
|Magnesium, Mg||12 mg|
|Manganese, Mn||0.143 mg|
|Zinc, Zn||0.24 mg|
|Iron, Fe||0.3 mg|
|Dietary fibers||2.8 g|
Serving size: 100 grams
Now moving on to the health benefits of carrots for cows, some of them are as follows:
- Vitamin A in carrots is involved in the maintenance of cows’ eyesight and reproductive and respiratory health. Furthermore, this vitamin is even more essential in the cows that have recently given birth to calves.
- Vitamin C is responsible for building and strengthening their immune health, protecting them from all kinds of diseases and infections.
- Vitamin E is an important source of antioxidants in the cows’ bodies.
- Calcium supports nerve functions, muscle contraction, and enzyme activities. It is also known to promote cardiovascular health.
- Potassium maintains the fluid balance in their body and also helps them in metabolism.
- Iron plays a key role in cell respiration.
- Zinc is responsible for protein synthesis.
- Magnesium is indispensable in the metabolism of carbs and fats.
Can cows eat fresh carrots?
If you were given a choice between a freshly plucked apple and another one that is a day old, which one would you go for? 9 out of 10 people would choose the former.
When we talk about fruits and vegetables, we’re always keen on eating them fresh, aren’t we? The same is true for carrots.
However, when feeding your cows carrots, you might want to re-think this strategy. Wondering why? We’ll tell you all about it below.
The risk of Scours
How many of you have heard of the term “scours” before? Also referred to as “enteritis,” scours is a diarrhea-like condition among the cattle in which their intestinal tracts get inflamed.
Although this disease is usually transmitted to them through various infectious agents like viruses, bacteria, and parasites, that’s not the only cause.
Because the fresh carrots are rich in fermentable sugars, eating too many can also cause scours in cows. Some common symptoms of scours in the cow are:
- Loss of appetite
- Blood and fibrin in feces
- Difficulty in standing up
- Sunken eyes
- Poor pulse
If you want to protect your pet ruminant from scours, you should avoid feeding them fresh carrots. Instead, you should store carrots in a dry and cool place for about 2 weeks and then serve these to them.
What about carrot tops? Are they edible to cows?
Whoever spread the rumor that carrot tops should not be eaten had no idea what they were talking about.
It might come as a surprise to many, but carrot tops are just as nutritious as the vegetables themselves. These tops are rich in vitamins K and potassium and are also known for their detoxifying effects.
Moreover, it’s not like the carrot tops are unpalatable either. They have a sweet, earthy flavor and can be used in various soups and salads.
But what about your pet ruminants? Can they eat carrot tops as well? Most Certainly! Cows love munching on the crunchy carrot tops and will also benefit health-wise from eating them. If you throw the tops away while feeding them carrots, you have been doing it wrong all along.
However, before you go ahead to feed the tops to your pets, there’s one thing you should be careful about. In about 90% of the commercially grown carrots, the tops are often sprayed with toxic chemicals like pesticides and insecticides to keep pests away from them. If your cows ingest these chemicals, the consequences could be ugly.
Therefore, unless you’re growing carrots in your own garden, try to purchase organic ones for the safety of your pet’s health. This should be followed not only for carrots but for other fruits and vegetables as well.
Is it safe to feed carrots to calves?
Has your cow recently given birth to a little calf? These adorable creatures are certainly a sight to behold. But what about their diet?
All of us know that calves should be fed with their mother’s milk in the initial stages of their life, but do you know how long they need to feed on it? When can they be weaned off it and start eating fruits and vegetables?
These questions might sound daunting to someone who doesn’t have experience in parenting calves, but don’t you worry, we’ve got you.
When the calves are born, they should be fed their mother’s first milk, also referred to as “colostrum,” within the first 24 hours. After that, their mother’s milk (or a replacer formula) should be their sole diet for the next 2-3 months.
It is only after they’re 3 months old that the calves should be weaned off the milk. At this point, you can start feeding them grains mixed with corn silage and hay.
You should ideally wait for another month, till they get used to solid food, before introducing fruits and vegetables, including carrots, in their diet.
Carrots for cows: raw or cooked?
Carrots are nutritious vegetables both in their raw as well as cooked form. In fact, several studies have claimed that cooking them actually breaks down their cell walls, freeing up even more nutrients for absorption than before.
In other words, cooked carrots are slightly healthier than raw ones. However, if you consider the preference of your cows, you will find that they would like eating raw carrots more than cooked ones.
Moreover, cows are large animals with an equally large diet. A single cow can eat up to 35 lbs (roughly 15 kilograms) of carrots in a day. And since it wouldn’t be feasible to boil so many carrots for them, especially if you have more than one cow, it’s more convenient to go with raw carrots.
Frequently asked questions
Can I feed pineapples to my cow? Yes, pineapples are one of the fruits that are both safe and healthy for cows. Cows have no problem eating the fruits along with their rind and top. However, due to its high sugar content, pineapple should only be fed to cows in moderation. Also, always go with fresh pineapples when feeding your pets; canned ones should be avoided at all costs.
Is it okay to feed celery to cows? Yes, celery can easily be fed to the cows. Not only are these veggies an excellent source of fiber for the cows, but they also love them. If you’re thinking about feeding celery to your cows, you should go ahead by all means.
Are nightshade plants poisonous to cows? Yes. Because of the presence of solanine in them, all the nightshade plants are poisonous to the cows and could lead to disastrous consequences if ingested by them. However, it shouldn’t be a concern for you since cows find these plants unpalatable and won’t feed on them unless they are starving.
Conclusion: Can Cows Eat Carrots?
Considered as one of the most nutritious veggies, carrots make a great snack for cows as they contain essential minerals and vitamins.
So I guess that just about covers everything there is to know about cows eating carrots. Of course, there will always be more to learn as long as there are cows and carrots in the world, but this will at least give you a solid foundation from which you can begin your own explorations.
That brings us to the end of our article. Thank you for staying with us till the very end.