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On Your Table Blog

January 12, 2021

Can you give a cow a carrot?

Can you give a cow a carrot?

Josh submitted a question through our Ask a Farmer tab and we thought it would be an awesome opportunity to share what one farmer/rancher shared for a response.

Question: Do farmers mind if you give their cow a carrot?

Answer by Sterling farmer, Heather Lang

Thank you, Josh for your question. I'm glad to hear you want to show our cows love just as we do. My advice to anyone wanting to know if they can feed our livestock a treat would be this: The livestock you see out in the pasture probably catch your attention because they look calm and gentle and the scenery is beautiful. Or maybe you just don't get the chance to see cattle and other livestock on a daily basis and I can understand how some may think, "It's not gonna hurt the animal to give it a treat. No big deal."

As farmers and ranchers, we aren't just looking out for the safety of our animals, but also (and just as important) we are looking out for your safety. There are many things to take into consideration such as: those are big, animals with extreme power and although they appear calm (and maybe they are at that moment or maybe it is just their personality to be laid back) you, as someone passing by, doesn't know that. Something could spook that cow or maybe she realizes she doesn't know you and all of the sudden her mood changes or maybe she has a calf (baby) close by and may feel threatened. Yes, there is a fence between you and the cow, but you can't put all your trust in that fence. What if those cattle are on a specialized diet, or if that cow is so laid back because it is sick and the rancher is treating him or her, only you wouldn't know that? Just as you'd probably prefer your friend ask if it's ok to feed your dog table scraps before they go ahead and just give him a treat, we ask that same respect.

If you are looking to interact with cattle, or any other livestock, there are plenty of ranchers who would allow you to come visit their farm as they show you around and explain to you what they do, how they care for the animals and you might even be able to feed some of the animals. It is always best to ask first. If you are ever in the central North Dakota and want to visit a farm you let me know and I will happily take you on a farm tour.