What do cows eat?

28 November 2023
4 minutes

Every day, you get to eat and drink, but what you eat and how long it takes can vary a lot. Imagine if you had to sit at the table for 8 hours every day, just like a cow!

A full plate

On average, a person eats about 3 kilograms of food daily. But did you know that a dairy cow eats about 55 kilograms of roughage and drinks more than 100 liters of water every day? It's necessary for them to stay healthy and produce milk. On hot days, a cow can even drink as much as 150 to 200 liters of water! 

''Roughage is the general term for fiber-rich feed crops like grass and corn.''

Did you know?


Most of the food for cows is roughage, usually grown by the farmer on the land. This is often grass, supplemented with cut corn. In spring and summer, the grass grows, and the cows either graze in the pasture or the farmer brings the grass to the barn. In winter, when grass doesn't grow, the cows still need to eat. That's why grass and corn are ensiled. It's stored by piling it up, packing it down with heavy shovels, and sealing it airtight. This pile of grass is called a silage. 

''Did you know that a silage is actually a mound?''

Did you know?

Concentrated feed

Because a dairy cow works hard, she can use a little extra. That's why she also gets concentrated feed. The pellets come from one of the De Heus' factories. De Heus mixes different raw materials and press them into pellets. The cows love these pellets and get them during milking and from a feeding machine. Each cow has a collar with a sensor. The sensor makes sure the machine knows if the cow has had pellets or not. This way, they never get too much.

Dean wants dessert

Anna and Dean are having dinner at grandma and grandpa's. After the kale, grandma goes to the fridge. They always have those delicious desserts. When Dean finishes his dessert, he wants more. "Well, Dean, shouldn't you ask first?" grandma says. "No," says Dean, "cows can eat as much as they want, right?" Grandpa, grandma, and Anna laugh. “Cows can eat as much roughage as they want, just like you can eat as much kale as you want. But a dessert is like concentrated feed. It's an extra treat.”