Most cattle are fed with high energy density food so that they produce more milk. Animals, such as cows, also have an essential daily requirement of energy, protein, vitamins and minerals for healthy sustenance. Cattle have a different digestive system and can, therefore, utilize forages like hay and silage as a source of protein and energy. Protein sources for cattle also come from other sources such as cotton seeds, groundnut cake, soybeans, coconut cake, cottonseed cake, etc. These foods provide the essential amino acids that are required for the development and growth of the animal. Read on to know more about foods that cattle eat.
Groundnut oilcake is favoured as the best source of protein for cattle. This is the remains after groundnut is crushed and oil is removed by solvent extraction or pressed using an expeller. Two grades – Grade I and Grade II- are available in the market as cattle feed.
Groundnut oilcake has about 45% protein that contains Vitamin b12 and Calcium but is deficient in lysine, methionine, and cysteine.
However, groundnut oilcake can contain aflatoxins and can be infested by moulds. These can turn into carcinogens and prove harmful. These can cause liver damage and kidney dysfunction. Therefore care has to be taken.
Coconut cake, otherwise called coconut meal, contains up to 25% crude protein. The histidine and lysine contents are low. The oil content in coconut meal is about 2.5 to 6.5 per cent. It also contains a sufficient amount of fibre.
Coconut meal helps to produce firm milk fat that is best for making butter. If the oil content in coconut meal is higher, the oil can turn rancid and cause diarrhoea.
De Oiled Coconut Cake
Otherwise known as copra cake, this is the by-product that is obtained after crude coconut oil is expelled from copra by either mechanical means or through solvent extraction method.
Deoiled coconut cake is a source of high energy feed for cattle. It is also known to contain a high amount of fibre. These factors help to increase the weight of fully grown cattle. It also provides a significant amount of protein required for the growth and development of the cattle.
De oiled coconut cake is tasty and healthy for the animals. It is the best alternative for cattle in place of wheat flours and those of other grains.
Cottonseed cake is the by-product that is obtained after removal of cottonseed oil by either mechanical means such as an expeller or through solvent extraction methods.
This is the feed that can be safely given to adult cattle. However, the intake should be only a maximum of 2.5 to 3 kg per head per day. The cake is usually cooked with added 1% calcium hydroxide and 0.1% ferrous sulfate to remove toxins.
Gossypol is a polyphenolic compound that is found in the pigments found in whole cotton seeds. Gossypol exists in both the free and the bound forms. The free form is more toxic. The cattle may digest a little of the bound form of gossypol.
Cottonseed cake can be stored easily and a preferred food for the cattle. It has a reasonable content of protein but is low in methionine, cysteine, and lysine. The Calcium to phosphorus ratio in this food is about 1:6. There are chances that calcium deficiency may occur.
Cottonseed cake is available in two forms in the market: decorticated and undecorticated. Lactating cows can be fed with a minimal amount of cottonseed cake. Large amounts can make the milk hard, and the fat that comes out resembles tallow which is rich in triglycerides.