What to do if cows do not eat hay

Hay is an essential ingredient in a cow’s diet throughout the year. However, there are times when an animal refuses to consume it. For what reasons this happens and how to get out of the situation, we will tell in the article.

Feed Characterization

Like any other animal, a cow needs a varied and balanced diet that will replenish the body with the necessary elements, so that it has good health and high productivity. It is primarily a question of the balance of basic and concentrated feed.

Cows must include coarse, succulent, green feeds and concentrates on the menu.

Did you know? In the world, several miniature breeds of cows were bred that did not exceed 1 m at the withers. One of them appeared in Africa - representatives of the Shorthorn breed were 80–100 cm tall and 150–200 kg in weight. In Mexico, one farmer bred a cow that is 62 cm tall and brings a liter of milk per day.


Coarse feed includes hay and straw. Every day a dairy cow needs up to 4–5 kg of roughage — this indicator depends on the time of year, the amount of milk brought in and the availability of other types of feed in the diet. For meat breeds, coarse foods should be 30% of the total diet. At the same time, 40% should be represented by succulent feed and 30% by concentrates. Also, the calculation can be carried out based on the norm of 2 kilograms per 100 kg of live weight.

These products are vital for cattle, as they saturate the body with protein, fiber, vitamins, calcium and phosphorus. And this, in turn, has a positive effect on the functioning of the digestive tract, the course of metabolic processes, productivity, general well-being and weight gain.

The nutritional characteristics of hay depend on which plants it was harvested from and under what conditions it was preserved. The most useful are dried cereals and legumes.

If the cow does not have enough hay, then straw is introduced into the diet. It contains a sufficient amount of fiber, but few vegetable proteins and no minerals and vitamins.

Straw made from winter crops is prepared in a special way before feeding, because it is too hard. Barley and oats straw is given as feed without preparation.

Important! If poisonous and prickly grasses get into the hay, its quality is significantly reduced: such food can lead to poisoning of animals. Also, intoxication provokes hay, which was stored incorrectly - in conditions of high humidity and lack of air ventilation.


Fresh grass must be included in the main diet of cattle. Adults are able to consume up to 70 kg of grass per day.

Green feed contains proteins, amino acids, vitamins, minerals necessary for the normal functioning of the animal’s body. However, their main advantage is that they are perfectly absorbed by the cow's digestive system.

The most valuable and highly nutritious green forages are young meadow grasses mixed with legumes. Only with a sufficient amount of this type of feed in the diet of a cow can you count on its maximum productivity, high-quality and tasty milk and resistance to disease.


The succulent feed that cows give is silage (from corn and sunflower), haylage (a mixture of annual, perennial grasses with legumes), root and tubers (potatoes, beets, carrots) and melons (watermelons, pumpkins). This type of feed is required in the winter. It allows you to maintain a high level of milk yield, maintain a strong immune system, make up for water deficiencies, improve the digestibility of other types of feed. Haylage also replenishes sugar and carotene.

The recommended rate of succulent feed in the diet of cattle is 4-5 kg ​​per day.


Concentrated feeds include cereals, production waste (cake, meal, bran, beet pulp, flour), as well as animal feed. They are highly nutritious and indispensable in the preparation of the diet of cows, which require good milk yield or meat yield.

For dairy cows, there are the following standards for concentrate consumption:

  • with a daily milk yield of 10-15 kg - 100-150 g per kg of live weight;
  • with milk yield 15–20 kg - 150–200 g / kg;
  • with a milk yield of 20–30 kg - 200–300 g / kg.
The amount of such products will depend on the orientation of the animal, the need for phosphorus and proteins. However, it is impossible to completely build a diet on concentrates alone.

Waste production

Cattle feed includes waste from flour, cereal, beet-sugar, and oil production. They are necessary for replenishing the animal's body with vitamins and minerals, as well as protein and fiber. Wheat, rye, corn, pea bran, fodder flour, mill dust, beet pulp, molasses, hemp, sunflower, flaxseed cake, meal are introduced into the diet.

The amount of these ingredients will depend on a balanced diet, in particular, on a balance in mineral composition.

Why does the cow not eat hay and what to do

Hay must be in the diet of the cow, regardless of the period. However, it happens that cows refuse to consume it. This can happen for several reasons, a description of which you will find below. We also give methods on how to make an animal eat in the previous mode.

The impact of disease

Often cattle refuses roughage if she is unwell. There are several diseases that lead to disruption of the digestive tract and a decrease or loss of hunger. In order to restore appetite and establish digestive function, it is necessary to establish the cause of the problem and eliminate it.


This is a bloating of the pancreas or scar due to excessive gas formation in the digestive system or obstruction of food to the stomach.


  • anxiety;
  • frequent attention of the cow to the stomach;
  • lack of appetite;
  • enlargement of the abdomen on the left side;
  • swelling of the scar;
  • cessation of ruminant function;
  • fever.

  • eating in large quantities of products that tend to ferment (greenery of corn, beets, cabbage, winter shoots);
  • uncontrolled grazing on wet pastures;
  • irregular feeding of animals, as a result of which they eagerly eat food, not having time to chew them normally;
  • an unbalanced diet and the wrong frequency of feeding;
  • keeping animals without walking.

Important! All emergency methods and the appointment of drugs should be carried out by a person with a veterinary education and only after the correct diagnosis. Ways to increase appetite:

  1. Eliminate the causes of scar inflammation - establish nutrition, control the quality of feed.
  2. Remove gases by introducing a probe and flushing the scar or, in emergency cases, puncture it.
  3. To stop the fermentation processes by the introduction of disinfectants (iodine, ichthyol, formalin, etc.).
  4. Perform a scar massage.


It is manifested by a decrease and cessation of contractile activity of the scar.


  • providing cows with feed that is difficult to digest;
  • ingestion of low-quality products;
  • a sharp change in the types of feed, for example, green concentrated;
  • drinking dirty water.

  • a sharp decrease or loss of desire to eat;
  • the absence of chewing gum or its too liquid consistency;
  • weak pulsation of the pancreas;
  • compaction in the pancreas;
  • a change in the nature of feces to liquid;
  • drop in productivity.

Ways to increase appetite:

  1. Do not give the animal food throughout the day, while drinking plenty of water.
  2. Enter from the 2nd day only high-quality food with a small inclusion of animal feed.
  3. Take the animal out for a walk regularly.
  4. Carry out a scar massage.
  5. Water with glauber salt dissolved in water (200 g / 1 l).
  6. Introduce vegetable oil (800 g) into the diet.


The reason for the change in food preferences or lack of appetite may be diseases of the udder, in particular, mastitis. This disease is caused by streptococci and staphylococci, which penetrate through the milk channel and wounds.


  • ignoring udder care, hygiene during milking;
  • poor bedding after calving;
  • difficult birth;
  • damage to the mammary glands.

  • the presence of seals, nodules in the mammary glands;
  • the presence of cereal, protein, pus, blood in milk;
  • increase in body temperature;
  • decrease in milk yield;
  • oppression;
  • lack of appetite.

Ways to increase appetite:

  1. It is necessary to treat the disease with injections of suspensions and antibiotics (Mamifort, Masts Weixim, Dorin, etc.).
  2. Use homeopathic ointments and vaccines ("Traumeel", "Echinacea compositum", etc.).
  3. Properly express milk every 2 hours.
  4. To wash the mammary glands with cold water 5 times a day.
  5. To relieve inflammation and alleviate the condition, apply cabbage leaves, compresses (clay + olive oil + water), beet-honey mixture (3: 1) to the glands.
  6. Reduce the amount of juicy and concentrated foods in the diet and increase the percentage of hay.


If metabolic processes are disturbed, the body accumulates ketone substances, inflammation of the liver, heart, kidneys and other internal organs.


  • improperly prepared diet, in particular, an excess of concentrates, a lack of rough and succulent feed;
  • lack of walks;
  • protein overfeeding in combination with low physical activity during milking.


  • excitation of the nervous system, which is then replaced by oppression;
  • trembling in the body;
  • gnashing of teeth;
  • increased salivation;
  • preference for poor-quality feed (for example, eating rotten hay, bedding instead of good feed);
  • smell of acetone from the mouth, from milk and urine;
  • a decrease in the amount of milk or its complete absence.

Ways to increase appetite:

  1. Adjust the feeding regimen - reduce the number of concentrates and increase the percentage of hay, haylage, succulent feed, introduce molasses.
  2. Introduce premixes, intravenous vitamins, minerals into the diet.
  3. Introduce intravenously glucose (300-600 ml). With prolonged glucose treatment, inject insulin. Or drink with sugar syrup (150-500 g of sugar dissolved in water).
  4. Apply energy.
  5. Conduct soda enemas or drink soda solutions.

Traumatic reticulitis

This is an inflammation of the second pancreas due to a foreign body entering the digestive system.


  • restless behavior;
  • increase in body temperature;
  • rapid pulse;
  • loss of hunger;
  • cessation of scar pulsation;
  • a noticeable decrease in the amount of milk delivered.
Ways to increase appetite:

  1. It is necessary to remove a foreign body (if possible).
  2. Before removal, put the animal on a hungry diet lasting 1-2 days.

Helminth infection

One of the most common reasons for reducing hunger or eating habits in cattle is worms. The reason is the ingestion of worms in the body with grass contaminated with water.


  • cough;
  • increased sweating in the morning;
  • finicky eating;
  • a sharp decrease in body weight;
  • reduction in the amount of milk brought;
  • alternating constipation and diarrhea.
To increase appetite, it is necessary to carry out degelmentation 2 times a year, in the spring and in the fall, with the preparations Panakur, Rafenzol, Oksiklozanid, Trematozol and others, depending on the type of worms.

Postpartum and Prenatal Paresis

If the cow stopped eating hay immediately after calving, then most likely it has postpartum complications. Most often, such symptoms are characterized by postpartum and prenatal paresis, the causes of which are metabolic disorders. They are accompanied by symptoms such as paralysis of the legs, tongue and larynx, digestive system problems, weakness, impaired coordination of movements, lethargy, and fever.

Postpartum paresis: 1 - severe; 2 - mild form. If such a condition arose before calving, then the cow will not be able to help. Paresis after childbirth occurs in the period from 1 to 3 days. They treat it with caffeine injections and pumping air of the mammary glands through the nipple to increase the pressure in it and change the chemical reactions in the body, normalize the levels of calcium, magnesium and glucose. Complementary therapy consists of warm enemas and injections of a mixture of calcium chloride, glucose and water into a vein. Intramuscular injections of hormonal agents, dihydrotachysterol, intravenous injections of calcium gluconate solution are effective.

Other reasons

Other possible causes of a lack of hunger include:

  • poisoning by vegetation or chemicals;
  • overfeeding;
  • a sharp transition to new types of feed;
  • living in unsanitary conditions;
  • the provision of poor-quality feed;
  • violation of the regime and rules for the provision of food.

Why the calf eats hay badly

Some breeders of cows are faced with the fact that hay refuse to eat small calves. As a result, they do not gain weight, and the owners have difficulty in selecting products for the baby.

In order for the calf to start eating normally, you need to understand the reasons for his refusal to eat. To begin with, it is necessary to exclude congenital pathologies, which include white muscle disease, paratyphoid, pneumonia, inflammation of the gastric mucosa, hernia. To determine the exact cause, it is necessary to show the baby without an appetite to the veterinarian.

Common causes are also colds. If the calf's body temperature is elevated, then most likely he has caught a cold, and he needs to be given veterinary care.

Another reason why the baby refuses to eat roughage is that he only ate his mother’s milk recently and simply doesn’t know what hay is, what he can eat and how to do it. In this case, you need to wait a bit for the calf to adapt to a new type of food. The training of calves for fresh hay does not begin before they reach 20 days: they do it aggressively, constantly leaving it in the feeder or feeding it by hand.

According to the standards, at the age of 2-3 months, the calf should eat about 1 kg of hay, at 4 months - 3 kg, at 5 months - 4 kg, at 6 months - 5 kg. If no health problems have been identified, then the owner needs to make a diet without hay, and offer the product in question a little later, when the calf grows up.

You can also try replacing the feeder - perhaps from the one that is provided to the calf today, it is simply inconvenient for him to eat. It is necessary to pay attention to the quality of hay - young individuals should be given only fresh and soft.

Did you know? Usually a cow brings one, maximum two calves. However, there are unique cases when females gave birth to 5 and 8 babies. And in 1939, the cow brought a record number of calves for 1 calving - 16. But, unfortunately, only 1 of them was full-term.

Thus, there are many reasons why a cow refuses to eat. Most often this is due to the development of a disease. To establish the activity of the digestive system of the animal, it is necessary to identify the cause and eliminate it. Entrust this task to a competent veterinarian.

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