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Cows on pasture produce healthier, bigger calves

Pasture, not grain or "concentrate," is the native diet of cattle. It stands to reason that cows that eat nothing but pasture would have healthier calves. Researchers have found this to be true. In a controlled experiment, 24 pregnant cows were divided into two groups. Both groups grazed pasture, but one was supplemented with a grain-based product. The calves from the grass-only cows were heavier, taller, and had a larger chest circumference. The researchers concluded that "the adoption of new management practices" such as feeding grain to pregnant cows should be undertaken with caution.

(Bergamaschi, M. A., W. R. Vicente, et al. (2004). "Effect of grazing system on fetal development in Nellore cattle." Theriogenology 61(7-8): 1237-45.)

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