Cows Are Nature's Recyclers

A Washington Dairy Farmer explains what he feeds his cows and how the feeding process helps benefit the environment. Cows are fed a lot of by-products including whey, feed canola, corn distillers, and ground corn screens left over from the the production of cottage cheese, canola oil, and ethanol. Cows are nature's recyclers because of their ability to digest these by-products. Dairy farmers can access these waste streams and still produce a very good diet for cows - a diet that keeps the cows happy, healthy, and producing two great products: milk and manure. The milk then feeds people, and the manure is repurposed into electricity or processed into fertilizer. The fertilizer is used to grow crops that sometimes end up as cow feed. It's a sustainable cycle in our environment, and sustainability is something that Washington Dairy farmers think about all the time.

Video Transcript:

When we feed our cows, we actually feed a lot of byproducts. We actually feed whey which is left over from the cottage cheese making industry; we feed canola which is left over from the canola oil industry; we feed corn distillers which is a byproduct of the ethanol business; we actually feed ground corn screens, which is leftover from the corn export business.

I think you can look at cows kind of as nature’s recyclers. Being a ruminant you can put a wide variety of feed stuffs into that cow and it will be able to digest it and do really good. That’s kind of why we can take advantage of all these waste streams and still come up with just a very good diet for cows.

You have the animals, the animals eat the food, the animals produce two products, and that’s milk and manure. If we turn around, and we use the milk to feed people. And we use the manure, and we turn around and process that and we make electricity out of that. And then we turn around and use that again for fertilizer, which once again makes the feed for the cows.  So it kind of goes in a cycle. The less inputs you can put into that little circle, the better off we all are. It just makes things more sustainable. And that’s something we think about all the time, to be honest with you.