When most of us think about cows, we picture a herd of cattle grazing in a wide-open field.
The first image we conjure of our farm animals is of them eating!
Of course, the food people commonly see bulls and heifers munching on is grass.
But cows enjoy and benefit from eating a range of different foods.
They’re herbivores, but their diet has room for exploration, from fruits and vegetables to wild plants and grains.
Giving your steers treats outside their usual grass and hay helps their bodies build energy and, in some cases, fend off diseases.
Keep reading to learn about our favorite treats for cows and what’s so special about them.
If you don’t already keep this staple treat in your barn, run out and get some!
Cats, goats, and many other kinds of livestock enjoy salt blocks.
They make a good palate cleanser for your animals and are also extremely important for your cows’ health.
Your cattle have an instinct to consume salt because it’s an important component of their diet.
They use salt to help regulate water levels in their body, maintain a healthy metabolism, and perform other crucial bodily functions.
Related: Why do cows need a salt lick?
This one may seem a bit obvious as it’s widely used in large-scale conventional farming in the United States.
Corn isn’t the most necessary addition to your cows’ feeding schedule.
But it is a decent energy source, and your cows will enjoy feeding on it from time to time.
Keep in mind:
Farmers who feed their cattle almost exclusively corn risk rotting out the animals’ stomachs.
Cows enjoy eating corn, though, and there’s nothing wrong with giving it to them in moderation.
Further reading: Can cattle safely eat deer corn?
We wouldn’t suggest you give your cow the whole Happy Meal, but apple slices make a great treat for cattle!
This fruit will give your animals extra nutrients, and the herd will be thrilled when you offer it up.
The only downside to apples is they cause bloat if overeaten.
Don’t make this a daily treat or anything.
But it’s a great snack for your cattle to enjoy on occasion.
Further Reading: Cows And Apples: Is It Safe?
Oats and other grains have been used as feed for cattle for a long time.
Cattle stomachs are sensitive, so feeding too much corn becomes dangerous over time.
But other grains show different results.
Oats, in particular, have the opposite effect and are good for helping your cows digest their food.
This one may surprise you, but some farmers consider grapefruit a wonderful treat for cattle!
Being a citrus fruit, it’s high in Vitamin C, which is good for cattle and people.
Grapefruit may also help prevent your cows from contracting certain diseases because it contains antimicrobials!
According to some preliminary studies, this and other citrus fruits may even aid in milk production.
Speaking of milk production, alfalfa is the perfect treat for your dairy cattle.
Cubes of the alfalfa plant are available for you to purchase, and they will make your animals happy and healthy!
Alfalfa plant material is used to make pellets which act as cattle feed for many farmers.
We know people who’ve used these pellets on our farm before as a healthier alternative to traditional grain.
The cows took some time adjusting, but they eventually settled happily into eating alfalfa daily.
Cattle cubes are treats designed specifically for your cows.
They’re made from a combination of protein and various vitamins and minerals.
This makes them a healthy option for your farmyard friends!
They’re appropriate for dairy cattle or beef cattle and benefit both, so there’s no limit to who can profit.
This one surprised me when I first learned about it, so I understand if your jaw just dropped.
We know bananas are healthy for people because of their nutritional value.
But I bet you didn’t know they’re good treats for your cattle too!
This fruit is high in Vitamin B6 and B12, not to mention their high potassium and magnesium content.
As with many of these treats, it’s important to only feed them to your animals in moderation.
Cows are meant to eat mostly forage like grass, clover, and other plants.
Related: Is clover bad for cows?
High amounts of food like bananas and grapefruits can turn detrimental.
These aren’t technically animal feed!
Sometimes used in feed mixing, molasses makes another excellent treat for your cattle.
It contains a lot of nutrients, including calcium and magnesium.
We especially love it because it increases cows’ appetites and helps their digestion!
Beet pulp is fed to horses and cows alike and is a great source of fiber.
It’s sold wet and dry.
In either form, it’s another treat your cows won’t have trouble digesting.
This may not be one of the most exciting treats they’ll eat. But it’s certainly healthy!
Many farmers have many a memory of the gentle scent of kelp as they scooped it out to feed their growing calves each morning.
People feed kelp to calves while being weaned because it’s been shown to reduce the stress associated with the weaning process.
But there are a lot more benefits, too.
Kelp is an immune booster for cattle and a great treat for those animals who need to gain weight.
Here’s another of those human foods.
Believe it or not, cows love pumpkins!
It’s one more source of protein for them, has a high moisture content, and is easy for their bodies to digest.
As with other human foods, such as the grapefruit and bananas we mentioned earlier, remember how new these treats are to your cattle.
It may take some time to understand these things are safe for them to eat.
This is especially true for older animals raised on a relatively narrow diet.
Once they adjust, though, your herd will probably be grateful for the variety.
So, feed your cattle pumpkins once in a while!
Further reading: Can cows eat pumpkins?
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