Thursday, March 10, 2011

Cow Capacity...

What in the world is cow capacity?

Well, of's how much a cow can eat in a day!

It's difficult for you to see the actual amounts from these pictures.  If I had thrown everything together into one big pile, it would be much easier to see just how much it adds up to!  But suffice it to say, it's a lot...

A lot of farms have a mixer, in which all the forages are put together and mixed, creating a TMR, or Total Mixed Ration.  We do not use a mixer...we feed each thing separately.

Before each milking, they get a large armful of balage...

Next, they get corn silage...roughly 36 pounds per day, per cow...

After the silage, they get toasted corn, pellets and toasted soybeans...

The corn is fed three times per day...roughly 15 pounds per cow (that's three of those scoops).  A heavy milker might get a bit more, and a cow near dry - up gets very little corn.   Similarly, the amount of pellets and beans varies.  A dry - up cow gets none.  (and she looks longingly at her neighbors' !)

And we certainly can't let out the dry hay!  Each cow eats approximately five cakes, or one half bale of hay per day...

Last, but certainly not least in order of importance, is water.  A cow will drink anywhere from 30-50 gallons of water per day.  That's a lot of water!

It takes a lot to keep a cow happy, and yes, we do expect them to clean up their plates!  If they don't, there must be something wrong! 

I've linked up with Farm Friend Friday...check out some other fun farm blogs!


  1. Alica I very informative post. With the beef it is just hay and salt, it is easier but the water thing is important. When we had them in the barn without running water it was a lot of work. Our cows are happy just like yours. We like them that way. B

  2. Good post.
    We feed hay and alfalfa haylage to the beef cows and dairy cow,grain is given to our Jersey only to help with her milk production, and of course mineral,salt and a huge amount of water.
    I agree if plates are not clean someones under the weather.

  3. Alica -- do you pasture your cows in the warm months? If so, what type of grass do they eat?

    We pasture about 10 cows in the warmer months and have an artesian spring-fed pond that is used for their water source. Makes it pretty easy.

    Interesting post. I love learning about your cows. :)

  4. Nancy - Yes...we do pasture the cows in warmer weather. Once the meadow grass has grown back in the spring, we let them out for large portions of the day between milkings. They'll also be out all night. Jim plants several fields with Sudan grass and Millet and sections them off for controlled grazing.
    I'm glad you're enjoying learning about the cows! :) What kind do you have?

  5. Amazing post--I honestly had no idea there was such a method to what they eat and when they eat what and although I assumed they ate a lot--I am blown away by how much. Even just keeping them in water is a big deal for one cow? How many do you all have? Thank you to the cow farmers out there--we need you!
    Great post and thanks for linking to FFF!

  6. My cattle aren't milkers either, so they don't get the heavy grain. You certainly must have very happy cows with all the toasted corn and soybeans!

  7. Truly enlightening, that's a lot of grub:@)

  8. Amy - We have 45-50 cows (milking and dry) and about 30 replacement heifers...

    Teresa - they LOVE the toasted corn, pellets and beans! One cow got into the corn cart and literally ate herself to death's door! She made a miraculous recovery...maybe that's fodder for a post someday!

  9. This is a great post, very informative. I had no idea how much food and water cows needed on a daily basis. I guess we are not ready for cows at our place quite yet!

  10. Wow! I never realized that a milking cow ate so much food. Very nice post! By the way I found you on farm friend friday.

  11. All new to me and very interesting and informative. That IS a lot of water!!


  12. Holy Cow! That's a lot of food. I had no idea that cows had to eat that much to produce quality milk. And...what a varied diet!

    Thanks for enlightening me. I will never look at cows in quite the same way!

    So glad I stopped by for Farm Friend Friday!

  13. This is so cool, to learn (and see) what a cow eats every day. Love it!


I enjoy hearing what you have to say! Thanks for your comments!