What Makes A Cow Stop Eating?

As animal caretakers, we want to ensure that our animals never go hungry, and that they eat nutritious and healthy food. Have you ever stopped to think: “What makes a cow stop eating?”

What Makes a Cow Stop Eating?

Whenever we think of cows, we always envision them on a farm in a nice warm and sunny day, chewing and chewing on some grass and hay. In cartoons, they are often depicted as black-and-white clad, laidback animals, whether on a farm, or in the pasture, but also always chewing and eating something. We may take this for granted, but cows aren’t always eating. In fact, it is when they aren’t with food in their mouths that we should be wary and pay attention. Unless they are sleeping, cows like to eat every now and then, and the items in this list below are causes for alarm. Here are a few instances or situations that make cows stop eating.

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Just like humans, our big bovine friends also get stressed. Whether it’s physical pain, cramped spaces, or even loud noises and uncomfortable situations, there are a number of different ways to stress out a cow. When that happens, the PH Level of their rumen (the largest of the stomach compartments of cows and other ruminants) is disrupted and causes discomfort. Thus, it is always beneficial to keep your cows as relaxed and comfortable as possible.

It may also come as a shock to us humans that bullying is prevalent in animals, and cow herds are no different. The bigger bessies often have the louder say in things, thus leaving the smaller, weaker ones isolated and ostracized. This also causes stress in cows and therefore lose their appetite in the process. It is best to give the cows the freedom to roam and graze so as not to get in each others’ faces.

Infection and other Physical Conditions

It goes without saying that infections can cause great discomfort, not just to humans but to cows as well. Our barnyard buddies don’t feel well and lose their appetites when nursing an infection, or other types of diseases, or sometimes (related to point number 1) are just in a lot of pain. Much like humans with a bad toothache, their appetite virtually disappears when nursing these discomforts.

Sometimes, in the course of daily events, a cow may get physically hurt or injured. Because they focus on the pain, they lose their appetite and focus on nursing the hurting part of them. External factors such as worms and other parasites can also cause cows a great deal of physical pain. Their natural response to these and all other types of discomfort is just to forget they are hungry and be laser-focused on addressing the painful issue.

Poor Living/Feeding Conditions

Cows don’t necessarily have to have palatial sophistication to be able to eat right. They just really need food good enough to eat, and water clean enough to drink, and the right physical living conditions (space, temperature, etc) to be able to chow down on their grub. One such situation related to this is if they are fed rotten food. Not just will the food be unpalatable then and there, these can also lead to things mentioned in point number 2. 

This goes the same for dirty/non-potable water. If the cows decide to drink dirty water (whether muddy, toxic, or chemically polluted) this may lead to one or more physical discomforts and may even be the cause of their death. 

Cows may also lose interest in food when cramped into a small space with their herd. Natural grazers, cows like a little personal space around them, and not to be cramped up like a can of sardines. 

The best solution to prevent any of these is simple: If you can’t handle it, neither can the cow.

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Full or Satisfied

Though we often see them masticating something, cows are not bottomless pits. They will eventually get full or at the very least satisfied enough to lose interest in eating momentarily.


This may make them seem like drama queens, but cows also prefer to eat with familiar kind. If they feel left out or alone, they tend to lose their appetites as well. Perhaps this has something to do with “fight or flight” reaction, that when alone, they need to focus on potential escape rather than feel relaxed.

In Summary : Cows Love to Eat, but watch out when they don’t 

Cows are big, and they love to chew away all day. When they are eating, they are healthy. When they are not, unless they are full, satisfied or asleep, there’s something wrong that needs to be checked right away.

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