Are cows meant to eat corn?
Cows are ruminants. Their four stomachs are naturally pH neutral. A corn-based diet creates an acidic environment that invariably leads to a host of health problems including bloat, diarrhea, ulcers, liver disease, and overall weakened immune system. To combat these illnesses, cattle are given antibiotics. And lots of them. Eighty percent of antibiotics used in this country are used for animal feed.
Cows raised on grass, however, are far less likely to encounter health problems. According to author Michael Pollan:
Although the modern cattle industry all but ignores it, the reciprocal relationship between cows and grass is one of nature’s underappreciated wonders. For the grasses, the cow maintains their habitat by preventing trees and shrubs from gaining a foothold; the animal also spreads grass seed, planting it with its hoofs and fertilizing it.
In exchange for these services, the grasses offer the ruminants a plentiful, exclusive meal. For cows, sheep and other grazers have the unique ability to convert grass—which single-stomached creatures like us can’t digest—into high-quality protein. They can do this because they possess a rumen, a 45-gallon fermentation tank in which a resident population of bacteria turns grass into metabolically useful organic acids and protein.
Now that most of the nation’s corn is genetically modified cows are even more vulnerable. Add the lack of access to the outdoors found in concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) we have plenty of reasons to stick with grass fed beef and dairy!
Lisa Petrison says
By far the highest-quality dairy I have ever encountered is the raw milk (non-certified organic) produced by Claravale in central California. I have visited their lovely farm on numerous occasions and spent a good bit of time talking to the owners about their product.
They feel strongly it is inappropriate for dairy cows to be fed a diet of 100% grass and have convinced me that there is merit to this argument. Here is a page with their comments about that.
Andrea Fabry says
Great. Thanks for the input, Lisa.
Hailey L says
thank you!! i will definitely look into that!!