Introduction - Cow Health

Farmer must consider that Quality of feed is one of the major factor in maintenance of cow health. It also helps in determining the cost of milk production from cow. Well-balanced feeding practice contribute greatly to the health of the cattle. The quickest and most cost-effective method is the examination of manure. Manure is a last product of digestion so indicate the interaction between feed, rumen and the digestive tract. In this paper let’s attempt to discuss how manure observation can help identify and solve problems related to digestion and improve cow health.

Fundamentals of Cow Digestion

The cow’s diet consist of good and chewable fibre allow increased secretion of saliva resulting in rumen buffering. It is important that cow should not finish the feed fast-chewing. Most of the fibre should digest (Fermentation) in the rumen itself. If undigested feed is passed through the large intestine then fermentation will produce gas and acid which leads to a loss of nutrients and a change in dung consistency. Cows should access to feed throughout the day and spend minimum 12 hours in chewing and ruminating. Cows love to eat 6-8 times every 24 hours. They will eat faster if we allow them only twice a day which may leads to losing out on nutrients. Cows should also have constant access to water. The fermentation process dehydrate cow within 4-6 hours which causes impaction.

Depending on the type of feed and fodder cows defecate every few hours (up to 15 times a day) and passing a total of 30 kg of dung. A healthy cow will secrete 100-150 litres of saliva per day. 
Cow health
The illustration shows the difference in the amount of saliva secreted. The salts available in the feed also affect quality of saliva. The production of saliva requires a huge quantity of water. Cows must drink 150 litres of water per day. A deficiency in water or salts can cause severe digestive problems.

Roughage- Cow Health
These principles should guide you in setting up a farm with good feeding practices. The next post will discuss how manure can be examined for digestive efficiency.

Dr. Abdul Samad

Ex-Dean and Director, MAFSU, Nagpur

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