Ruminants are known for their ability to digest a wide range feed types in comparison to other livestock. This has made it possible for the agricultural community to experiment with various feed stuffs including those considered as strictly human food. This comes after the desperate need for farmers to satisfy the dietary needs of cows using readily available feed stuff instead of store bought feed that commands a higher price. As a matter of fact, livestock feed accounts to approximately 60% of the overall cost of production and sometimes even more. To exacerbate this challenges, the cost of feed is expected to increase rapidly over the next few years. As such, among other feed considerations is usage of bakery waste in animal dietary plans, particularly bread.

Nutritional Value

Not a lot of research has been done on whether cows can eat bread. However, there are few studies indicating that cows can feed on bread without experiencing any adverse effects on health and productivity. This practise is already in use in some countries and the results recorded are remarkable. Bread is a rich source of various nutrients and minerals. It contains approximately 65% dry matter, 14% crude protein, 14% energy, 3% oil, 23% fibre 73% starch and 2% sugar. These allow for improved health and so is the overall performance of livestock. Cows provided with bread have been proven to perform better than those on a diet with insufficient energy and lacking in protein. An important factor to be are of is the nutritional needs of cows. For instance, they require crude protein intake of at least 20%. This reveals that a supplementary feed is necessary to meet the required amount since bread only has 14%. As such, rations must be carefully balanced for energy and protein as these form the basis for cow feed. Deficiencies are known to have the following effects:

  • Small calves at birth
  • Low milk production
  • Lower protein content in the milk
  • Loss of body weight
  • Increased risk of infectious and metabolic diseases
  • Fertility problems

To add on, cows can eat bread if it forage is availed to maintain rumen functions. Keep in mind that bread needs to be supplemented with complementary feed stuff in order to reach maximum productivity.

Physical Development

The physical development of livestock is of the utmost importance in cattle rearing. This is because in order for cows to be productive, they need to reach full maturity. Note that this is applicable to both dairy and beef cattle. Energy and protein play an important role in the physiological development of livestock. Therefore, young cows can eat bread in order to get energy needed for growth and development. Starter cows need an increased amount of protein and so bread cannot solely sustain their dietary requirements. It is necessary to provide protein supplements. According to research, bread based diet for beef cattle is more efficient and produces premium grade steaks. Ruminants have a superior digestive system that can process bakery products more efficiently. In comparison to corn-based diets. Feed intake is therefore improved providing animals with an opportunity to reach their full potential.  Also, cows can feed on bread in order to reach maturity timeously which allows farmers to attain productivity within specifically planed timeframes. A well-balanced feed consisting of sufficient protein and energy values also allows for growth, maintenance, reproduction and production. It is not advisable to provide livestock with excess rations. In fact, although cows can eat bread, excess energy is stored as fat which tends to lower intake and disturb the functioning of the rumen.

Milk Production

The productivity of dairy cows is determined by the nutritional value of their dietary plans. In order for dairy cows to produce more milk, they need energy and protein. As such, cows can eat bread as a means to absorb nutrients needed for milk production. Lactating cows lose a lot of weight as their body reserves are withdrawn to allow for milk production. When provided with poor quality or insufficient feed rations, body reserves are exhausted resulting in rapid weight loss and declined productivity.  For this reason, dietary plans for lactating livestock should be rich in minerals and nutrients. Feeding protein helps to stimulate feed intake and permit efficient use of metabolized body fat for milk production. Bread is a rich source of fibre which is known to promote the production of milk fat. Cows provided with dietary plans that are well-balanced are known to produce an increased yield in comparison to those on a strict pasture diet. This basically means that farmers are able to maintain excellent dietary plans at very low costs which increases profit margins thereby ensuring a successful agricultural venture. Evidence points out that dairy cows can feed on bread so as to produce milk yields that are over 3 times more than the usual amount. It is stated that cows fed bread mixed with proper supplements and additives produce approximately 8 to 10 litres of milk per day. Those given poor quality forage only produce an average of 2 to 3 litres a day.

Health Maintenance

Animal health is of the utmost importance to livestock farming. Most farmers make use of antibiotics among other medication to maintain animal health. However, use of antibiotics without prescription has been banned in some countries. Farmers therefore are in need of natural means of protecting livestock from infection and diseases. Cows can eat bread so as to acquire necessary nutrients and minerals for health maintenance. Keep in mind that this cannot be achieved on a dietary plan consisting of solely bread. Supplementary feed stuff as well as additives are necessary to achieve a well-balanced diet that gives animals a boot in the immune system. They are therefore offered protection from a number of diseases.  In addition, cows can eat bread in order to acquire trace elements necessary for long term health sustenance. Deficiencies in trace elements are known to manifest after several months affecting the wellbeing of cows. Furthermore, well-balanced dietary plans are necessary for the control of oxidative stress. Oxidation has negative effects on the health of livestock. Both the meat and milk produced by ill animals is of low quality and so commands a lesser market price. The upside of using bread for cattle diets is that it is highly palatable, nutritious and easily available in some countries.