Can Cows Eat Rice?

Can Cows Eat Rice

There has always been some debate as to whether a cow can eat rice. Like humans, cows eat several types of food in order to get all the essential nutrients that they need. Of course, some foods are more nutritious than others, and it is beneficial for your cow to have a balanced diet. I’ve had a few people ask me recently whether it’s okay to feed rice to their cows. In this post, I’ll answer that question with a definitive YES!

Can cows eat rice? Yes, rice is perfectly safe for animals to consume. Both white and brown rice are nutritious for cows when fed to them in moderation. All parts of the rice plant, including the bran, hull, and straw, are edible to cows.

Rice is an excellent source of carbohydrates and a moderate source of protein for cows. As long as the rice is combined with forage, it is considered a healthy, energy-dense food for cows.

In this article, we will learn everything there is to know about feeding rice to cows. Stay with us till the end.

Do cows like eating rice?

Cows enjoy eating both white rice and brown rice, but brown rice is healthier for them as it provides a few extra nutrients.

As pets, cows have a lot to offer to us. They give us milk, are harmless and amicable, and can make great companions. A bonus about these pets is that they rarely create a fuss about eating. When it comes to food, these ruminants can easily be satisfied with whatever you offer them.

Rice, being a grain, is highly palatable to cows. Therefore, you needn’t worry about your cows not liking them, because they will.


Brown or white rice: which one is better for cows?

Did you know that both brown rice and white rice initially start as brown rice? When the brown rice is milled to remove its husk, bran, and germ, it becomes white rice. In other words, brown rice is whole grain, whereas white rice is a refined grain.

While the process of milling lends white rice a longer shelf life than brown rice, it also takes away much of its fiber, vitamins, and minerals. It is because of this reason that white rice has a lower nutritional value than brown rice.

Do you ever wonder why white rice, despite being less nutritious than brown rice, is still more popular among rice consumers? It is because of differences between their flavor and texture.

While brown rice has a firm, chewy texture and a nutty flavor, white rice has a milder taste and a soft texture. Moreover, white rice is also polished to appear more palatable to us, which is why it’s also called “polished rice.”

If you want to learn more about the nutritional differences between brown and white rice, take a look at the table given below:

NutrientBrown RiceWhite Rice
Total fat0.65 g0.15 g
Fatty acid (saturated)0.17 g0.04 g
Carbohydrates17.05 g14.84 g
Dietary fibers1.1 g0.2 g
Sugar0.16 g0.03 g
Protein1.83 g1.42 g
Sodium, Na3 mg1 mg
Iron, Fe0.37 mg0.63 mg
Calcium, Ca2 mg5 mg
Calories82 kcal68 kcal

Serving size: 100 grams

It is clear that while both brown and white rice is safe for your cows to eat, the former (brown rice) is a healthier choice for them. Moreover, since cows don’t share our reservations about the taste of rice, you will face no trouble in feeding them brown rice.


Is it okay to feed rice bran to cows?

Rice bran is the brown, outer layer of the rice grain that is usually separated from it in the process of milling. Some of you might not know this, but the rice bran harvested in milling is often kept aside to be used as a supplement for the cattle. It is rich in fiber and antioxidants, both of which healthy for your pet ruminants.

In addition to rice bran, the rice bran oil (an oil extracted from rice bran) can also be mixed with your pet’s feed occasionally in order to add more nutrients to it.


Can cows eat rice straw?

Yes, certainly. Rice straw is what remains of these plants after the grains have been harvested. It is largely used as a dry forage in the regular diet of the cattle. However, rice straw has little nutritional value and should, be mixed with their commercial feed to make a healthier meal.


Can cows eat raw or uncooked rice?

Raw or uncooked rice can safely be fed to your pet cows in moderation. However, many farmers and cow owners out there are still nervous about feeding raw rice to their cattle.

This is due to the widespread rumor that it could expand in their stomach and lead to its explosion, killing the animals in the process. The rumor is nothing but an ill-spread myth that has no scientific or logical foundation.

All of us that raw rice needs to be immersed in water boiling at a high temperature to expand. If you soak it in normal water, it would take days for the rice to show any sign of expansion. And, since the enzymes and liquids found in your pet’s stomach are not boiling at a high temperature, the raw rice can’t expand there.

Now that we’ve cleared that misconception out, you can feed uncooked rice to your cows without worrying.


What about cooked rice? Is it edible to cows?

Have you ever tried eating a handful of uncooked rice? If you have, you might also remember suffering from a mild stomach ache afterward.

We can all agree that cooking rice certainly makes it easier for us to consume it. However, just as we are used to eating cooked food, your pet ruminants are used to eating raw food and can digest it easily. This is why I often recommend pet owners avoid feeding them any kind of cooked food.

Similarly, while cooked rice is not harmful to your pets, it is not really healthy for them either. In fact, considering the fact that rice is more nutritious in its raw form than cooked, it would make even more sense to feed the raw, and not cooked, rice.


Is feeding burnt rice to the cattle a good idea?

Many pet owners have a tendency to feed their wasted and spoiled foods to their pets, particularly cows. They believe that just because cows are not fussy eaters, anything can be fed to them. However, this practice is not only harsh and insensitive but could also be dangerous for your pets in the long run.

Take burnt rice for example.

We’ve already stated above that cooked rice is not really healthy for your pets, because most of its nutrients are dissolved in the process of cooking.  If rice is burnt in the process of cooking, it means that it has an even lower nutritional value (practically none) for the cows.

If you keep filling up your pets with foods that are nutritionally empty, they wouldn’t be able to eat their staple diet (grass and hay), which could make them nutrient-deficit in the end. And if you’re a concerned pet parent and don’t want that to happen to your cows, stop treating them as garbage disposals.


Rice snacks for cows

There are many snacks and desserts that have rice as their base ingredient. But do you think any of these can be fed to cows? Let’s take a look at which rice snacks your pet cows can enjoy safely:


Can you feed rice cereals to cows?

Rice cereals are healthy breakfast cereals made from popped and crispy rice. Many cow owners feed these cereals to their pets as a treat and claim that they love munching on them. If you’re looking for a treat to use for your pets, rice cereals can work for you, too.


Can you feed rice cakes to cows?

While rice cakes might sound interesting, they’re simply rice cooked and pressurized to give it a solid shape (often round). While most people add sugar and a couple of other ingredients (cinnamon, vanilla, etc.) to enhance its taste, it could be cooked without these for your cows.

However, since rice cake is cooked and, therefore, has very little to offer to your cattle nutritionally, I would recommend you not to feed it to them.


Frequently asked questions

Can lupine plants be fed to cows?

No, lupines are toxic to the cattle and should never be fed to them. If your pets consume these plants, they can be vulnerable to the Crooked Calf Syndrome, and some of its early symptoms are as follows:

  • Excessive salivation
  • Frothing at the mouth
  • Nervousness
  • Lethargy
  • Lack of appetite
  • Twitching leg muscles


Can my cow eat alfalfa? Yes, but only in moderation. Although alfalfa is one of the most nutritious hay in the world, its protein content is quite high. Therefore, if you do not limit your pet’s alfalfa intake, they could suffer from severe bloating.


Which grains would be the healthiest for my cow? Other than rice, some other grains that you should add to their diet are oats, barley, corn, and soybean.


Conclusion: Can Cows Eat Rice?

There’s no reason to think that rice is harmful to cows. The grain provides a modest amount of protein and fiber, both important to a dairy cow’s diet.

Cows eat rice, but it’s not their main food. Cows don’t have the digestive systems to be able to fully digest rice, which is why it’s best to feed it along with corn or other forage. 

Wow! That was a long article! I could say you’re tired, but the truth is I’m very hungry.

Let me know if you have any questions or suggestions for future articles. Also, if you like this article please share it with your friends and colleagues on your favorite social media channel.

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