Whether or not one ends up with a respectable, healthy herd of cattle depends heavily on how and what they feed the herd. Proper nutrition is a key component of a successful production of either beef or milk cattle. Cows can make use of a wide range of food sources and they are usually classified into groups depending on their nutritional value and physical form.The most common groups of cattle feeds are roughages, grains and oilseeds. Cows also eat vegetables including carrots,potatoes, cabbage leaves, cauliflower leaves and molasses.
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As the seasons change, pasture also becomes not readily available and this is when cows require supplementary feed. Pasture may be short, green or growing slow, in such instances, pregnant and breast-feeding cows will definitely require supplementary feed due to the high nutritional demands.
Livestock production has been increasing over the years due to the increases in demand and the need to find other sources of food for the herds has also increased.
Carrots work best as a feed supplement rather than as the main source of food, relying on them alone will cause a drop in access to other important nutrients and the reduction in nutrient availability can lead to health disorders. Carrots are acceptable as a way to add nutritional value to your cattle’s diet, they offer a substantial amount of energy.
Carrots as cattle feed
Carrots can be fed to livestock although their use has reduced in animal feeding in some parts of the world. Feed carrots are usually cull, or surplus carrots obtained during periods of overproduction. They are typically fed fresh and are available as chopped or whole. Other carrot products are occasionally fed to livestock including the tops resulting from harvesting and various and some other by-products of carrot processing including juice.
Carrots are highly palatable, ideal for ruminants to enhance forage intakes. If and when you decide to feed your cattle with carrots, you need to make sure that the ration is fairly bulky as it is required to help with satisfying the hunger.
Carrots are biennial herbs with thick fleshy taproot, the roots are usually orange but there are also yellow and white varieties. They produce roots in the first year and flowers in the second year. The storage root is a modified stem and a taproot composed of an inner pithy layer and an outer layer. The outer layer has a higher feed value than the inner layer. Varieties best suited for livestock feed are generally selected for the largest outer to inner ratio.
Cows are grazers and their natural feeding behaviour is to graze fresh grass on pastures and the most preferred grasses are fescue, bromegrass, wheat grass, orchard grass and timothy.
Changing food rations and types affects the digestive system of ruminants, it sets back the growth of the cattle so if any changes are to be made, like introducing carrot in the diet of your cattle, it should be a gradual process.
For a balanced diet, cows need to eat different types of foods combined. Feed should be palatable, and digestible so aa to ensure optimum feed intake and maximum nutrient availability.
The contamination by pesticides on root vegetables is very low hence the carrots are safer than grasses.
They have below average protein levels but they are high in moisture which is about 85 to 90% and they also have about 10% crude protein on a dry matter basis, they help to satisfy the dry matter requirement of all animals that can eat them.
Incorporating carrots into the diets of dairy cows increases the amounts of vitamin A and fatty acids in their milk. Carrots have 84% total of digestible nutrients and 10% crude protein. Supplementing cattle diet with carrots has a tendency to improve milk quality by promoting a faster decrease of SCC and improving the overall nutritional value.
For cows to eat the carrots, they should be properly processed to ensure desirable intake and you should feed your cattle at ground level to prevent chocking. Cows can die of choking if they are fed from the wrong angle.
Accessing the carrots for cattle feed should not cost you an arm and a leg, since carrots are good as supplements, they should not add to the 60-70% that is the total cost of feeds from the proceeds.
Weaknesses of Carrots as Food for Cows
Carrot leaves, stems and roots are highly palatable to livestock, leaves however accumulate high amounts of nitrates and ruminant consumption should be carefully monitored.Cattle should not be fed more than 15kgs of carrots per day. They work as a supplement and cannot be relied on as the main feed.
Carrots should be free from undesirable weeds and dust to make sure that they do not become the cause of disease, they should be stored properly because they are better as dry than rotten.
Feeding high levels of fresh carrots may cause some scouring which can be minimized by storing them for a few weeks.
Due to high fermentable sugars, fresh carrots should be combined with fibrous feeds to prevent acidosis and scouring and should be introduced progressively into the diet.As they are high in beta carotene, prolonged use at high levels can colour milk fat in dairy cows and carcass fat in beef cattle.
Learning more about the dietary needs of cattle and the roles of various nutrients is important for cattle maintenance because allows the formulation of well adjusted rations which will meet production goals in a cost minimization manner. Having access to information helps with enhancing the management of the feeding programs and it significantly reduces the incidences where one has to handle problematic situations.
Raw root vegetables lend energy and nutrition to livestock when used properly. Studies carried out by some ranches shows that carrot fed beef’s steak is intensely beefy and can also be referred to as a buttery meat. also, carrot feed is cheaper and could potentially provide cheaper beef for consumers.