The one New Year's resolution farmers and their animals never break..
By: Rebecca Christman
Three weeks into the new year, you may have made and broken your share of New Year’s resolutions. At the top of many people’s lists was probably eating a healthy diet. While as humans we may often fall short of eating a balanced diet, farm animals never do.
It doesn’t matter if farmers are feeding cattle, pigs, chickens or sheep, they work with an animal nutritionist to figure out exactly what nutrients animals need in their diet. Just like humans have different dietary needs based on their goals of losing weight, gaining muscle, or just maintaining their health, animals have different dietary needs as well. If you’re looking to make a change in your diet you may visit a nutritionist. Farm animals have a nutritionist that is specially trained in animal needs. Animal nutritionists work to figure out exactly what nutrients animals need at that stage in their life, and the types of feeds that fulfill those needs.
Not all types farm animals eat the same diet, because at their most basic level they have different digestive systems. Pigs are monograstics like us. Sheep and cattle are ruminants, and chickens have an avian digestive system. All these systems digest food in different ways, and that means they can eat different types of feeds. It’s really interesting stuff. If you’d like to learn more I’ve posted basic pictures below, and you can find out more about what their bodies can digest in this lesson.
If those aren’t enough variables, what animals are fed also depends on what types of feed farmers have. This depends on what farmers planted in the past year, and what they were able to buy at a good price. Common to popular belief, it’s not all corn. The feed is then tested for nutrient value. After that, the nutritionist make a ration that tells the farmer how much of each feed the animals should be getting. This ration doesn’t stay the same for the animal’s entire life, it changes based on age, weight, the time of year, pregnancy, and a host of other things. For example, young pigs may have a different diet every few weeks because they grow so fast!
Unlike sticking to a New Year’s diet, the farmer makes sure that the animals get their exact feed mixture every day. There are no “skip days” in a farm animals diet. This year, if I can stick to my New Year’s resolutions as good as a farm animal, I’ll be doing great.