MmmmThat’s Good

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Moo Moo Mama

To grain or not to grain that is the question???

Even within the healthy cow world, there are many differing opinions about whether cows should be given grain or purely grass. It’s a tough one to be sure. I’ve been reading until my eyeballs could fall out and I can’t find one way or the other that is “evil”.

Maybe it’s the grains that are grown today that are “evil”. But this notion that cows for centuries have only eaten grass in my opinion is unfounded. Even in Gene Logsdon’s book “All Flesh is Grass” he talks about turning cows out to graze in corn fields.  Or maybe it’s just that cows or all ruminant animals shouldn’t souly be fed grain as they do on most commercial dairy and cattle farms.

My simple understanding is that once a cow has been given a chance in the day to get their rumen going, then they have the ability to separate grain from going into the rumen and divert it to another one of their four stomaches. Or maybe I got that all wrong and it’s just that they get the pH in the rumen just right to handle some acidity. This is really way to scientific for me….I told you once before that I failed college nutrition! Too much science!

I have been giving my girls some grain. Baby Joy can’t seem to handle all grass right now and is being kept in the corral part of the day eating Orchard Grass Hay and I feed her some grain that I hand mix.

I know that a high protein diet is important, but so are carbohydrates for energy. For me it’s keeping that delicate balance. Not too much grain to throw off the pH. Just enough right now for energy. Our bluegrass is around 17% protein…yep grass! Josie is on fresh grass around 14-24 hrs a day now supplemented with approximately 5 lbs of grain divided into two feedings (I’m getting her ready for two milkings). If a thunderstorm is brewing I bring her into the corral since she is still tethered and isn’t completely free to seek shelter where she desires. Hopefully we’ll get the cattle panel fence installed soon. Honey just picked up 200-250 fence post this week. These things take time when you work a full time job.

Anyway, back to protein. In a wonderful little book called, “The Complete Herbal Handbook for Farm and Stable” Juliette de Bairacli Levy, says, “Protein and calcium must figure generoulsy in the daily ration, especially during the high lactation, for the cow gives out generously these substances in her milk, and will deplete her own body supplies if necessary.”

WOW! What an amazing animal.

Juliette speaks of grazing cows on different aromatic herbs to flavor milk and treat you animal for different conditions. And learning to sing like a milk-maid at milking time to increase milk yields.

My girls are getting a mixture of flaked barley, tripled steamed oats, sunflower seeds (hulled), wheat bran (a little), beet pulp and a drizzle of molasses. Most of the grains don’t have protein over 14%….not quite high enough for me, but the sunflower seeds have 26%! They do provide a good source of energy though. I mix it all together as they wait in anticipation. This is the time when the real animal comes out…they act just like pigs!!!

We’re into a good rhythm now. I put out Josie and let her eat grass for a while as I scoop poop. If Joy needs some extra rope lessons, I tie her up while I do the scooping. All the while the beet pulp is rehydrating in water. Then I mix things up in the feed room and they drool like dogs! Feeding them apart works much better. They can eat slower without the fear….Joy had the fear….of the other finishing first and taking theirs. There’s a lot less choking now. Reminds me of a family member who ate like that….no mention of names.

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