Feeding Pumpkins To Cattle

After Halloween, the market for pumpkins takes a huge dive. They’re just left to decompose right where they grew in the pumpkin patch. Send in some cattle and let them clean it all up.

Karla Jenkins is a cow/calf specialist at the University of Nebraska. She says pumpkin is a good alternative livestock feed.

"Pumpkins are 60%-70% in vitro dry matter disappearance so that’s very good. That gives you an idea that there’s digestibility to that," she says. "Upper teens for protein in them on a dry matter basis, but they are very wet. The dry matter of them is only like 12%-15%.

Many pumpkin patches are located next to a cornfield. After corn is harvested, farmers will let the cows graze left over stalks and residue. It’s a win-win for both pumpkin producer and bovine.

"After October 31st we’ve had frost and things so there’s not very much leaf material to a pumpkin plant left. So mainly what’s left out there is the left over pumpkin itself. But they say the cows will really go for those first, then they’ll move over to the corn," she says. "But, they want to give them access to both at the same time because the amount of feed available out there is a little bit limited, but you sure want to clean up the pumpkins that are left. And the cows will."

If you’ve ever carved a pumpkin you know that they have a pretty tough rind. A benefit of freezing and thawing this time of year is that it makes the pumpkins soft, and the cows have no problem breaking them open. They also have no aversion to eating them spoiled and rotten.

Learn more about feeding pumpkins to cattle

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