At De Heus, we have a wide variety of chefs who make the feed for cattle and other animals. Anna and Dean are itching to tell you more about their gourmet lovers!
What calves eat
When calves are just born, they drink colostrum for the first few days. That’s the fluid their mother produces before her milk comes in. Colostrum is a vital source of nutrients for calves; it contains lots of antibodies to improve the calves’ resistance to disease. But what do they eat afterwards?
A calf that is destined to become a dairy cow still drinks milk for about 10 weeks. Some farmers have a dispensing machine for this. The calf has a transmitter, so when she comes to drink, the machine knows exactly how much she is allowed. Other farmers give the milk to the calves manually a few times a day with a feeder bucket.
Moving on to solid feed
After 10 weeks, a calf only eats solid feed: roughage and concentrated feed. Roughage consists of grass, corn, hay or grass silage. Concentrated feed is bought from De Heus. This consists of pellets made especially for cows.
Healthy and delicious!
De Heus has 30 different types of concentrated feed. Each type of feed has a different mix of ingredients. How much concentrated feed a cow gets depends on how much roughage it eats and what type. A farmer tries to work this out as best as possible and chooses the most suitable concentrated feed for their cattle.
Not all grass is the same
Cows go mad for grass. But not all grass tastes good. Cows prefer to eat freshly mown grass. They are true grass experts, and the most delicious grass is between 15 and 20 centimetres long!
A farmer wants their cows to eat as much as possible. The more they eat, the more milk they produce... or the more meat they grow. So, a farmer thinks carefully about what grass they want to grow in the fields where the cattle graze. The farmer also has to grow grass for mowing and silage. Silage is a funny-sounding word, isn’t it? This is a feed made from grass or crops that have been cut and stored in a pile. The farmer gives this feed to the cows in the winter. They can then use the land freed up to grow corn.
Different cows, different feed
Dairy cows eat differently than beef cows. Beef cows eat more starch and calories to build extra muscle and fat. Beef calves are also weaned after six months, whereas dairy calves move onto dry food earlier after ten weeks. Dairy cows get more protein for better milk production.
Did you know that cows like to eat onions? But they aren’t given any up to three months before they go to slaughter, otherwise you’ll taste it in their meat!
Each cow has its own diet
White veal calves drink mainly milk. They do get a bit of roughage, because it suits their natural behaviour. The roughage they get doesn’t contain much iron, otherwise the meat becomes pink. Rosé veal calves get more roughage, which makes their meat pink. There are different types of beef, and for each species there’s a separate diet!