What exactly happens when cows eat corn?
Nowadays it nearly impossible to escape the new health food labels, Organic, GMO-Free, Gluten-Free, Antibiotic-Free, Natural, and now Grass-Fed. These are all important in terms of finding healthy foods at your local grocery store, but what are their meanings? For instance, why is Grass-Fed important? Grass-Fed beef in particular. In order to know why feeding cows grass is important, you need to know what the alternative is. The most common feeds given to commercial cows are grain and corn based. For the main topic of discussion, we will see what happens when cows are fed corn and why you should care.
Cows are classified as a ruminant and ruminants are not accustomed to eating high-starch foods like corn, which upsets their digestive system. Cattle create a lot of gas, which they usually expel, but when their diet is high in starch and low in roughage, it forms a layer of foamy slime in their stomach called the rumen.
This slime can trap the gas, causing the rumen to balloons out and press against the animal’s lungs. Unless you act quickly and relieve the pressure (usually by ramming a hose down the animal’s throat), the cattle will suffocate.
A corn diet can also generate acidosis. Unlike the highly acidic stomachs of humans, cattle’s stomachs are normally a neutral PH. Due to is acidic nature, corn turns their stomach unnaturally acidic. Acidotic animals tend to have diarrhea, ulcers, bloat, liver disease and a general weakening of the immune system.
Another terrible fact is that cattle cannot stay in a feed lot for more than six months, because a sustained maize diet will lead to fatal liver failure. As the acids corrode their stomach lining, bacteria enters the bloodstream and collects in the liver. Here is where the use of antibiotics comes into play. Antibiotics are given to reduce gas and prevent liver infection. However, the overuse of antibiotics in the feed lots means bacteria become resistant to them. This can be a real problem, leading to new, disease-resistant strains called super-bugs.
Crazy, right? Not only do these cows have a miserable life, but their meat is incredibly unhealthy for people to eat when they’re fed a corn-based diet.
*In my next post I’ll explain how Grass-fed meat, on the other hand, contains much more conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) and healthy saturated fats that protect from cancer, aide in fat loss, and improve brain & nervous system function. Grass-fed cows are also able to move around their pens for exercise and fresh air. They don’t have to stand around in their own excrement too. In my honest opinion, It’s worth the extra money and effort to track down local grass-fed meat. Not only is it better for your health and the cow’s, it tastes a million times better too!