How Do Animals Choose What to Eat? Part 1 – Mother Knows Best

Learning about how animals choose what to eat and where to live, and that it doesn't work the way we thought it did, has completely changed my life. In fact, it's why you're reading On Pasture today. I think it can change your life too. So, over the coming months, I'll be sharing a short course in what researchers have found, and how you can use it to grow more forage, graze more successfully, and be more profitable. Here's Part 1. We are so used to considering forage type, nutrition and quantity as we try to improve animal health and increase weight gain, we sometimes overlook how an animal's interactions with it's mother and peers affect what and how it eats. Since what a young animal learns has life-long consequences, knowing more about this process can help us be more successful managers. A young animal learns what kind of things it should eat and do from its herd or "social group." This explains how animals of the same species can survive in extremely different environments. For example, a calf reared in the sage-covered deserts of southern Utah and one raised on grass in the bayous of Lousiana have completely different diets and habits. This same flexibility occurs for humans as psychologist Paul Rozin points out: "Consider the massive differences between the almost purely carnivorous diet of Eskimos and the plant-dominated diets of many tropical cultures, or between the elaborate cuisines of India or France and the relatively limited amounts of food processing

All the grazing management tips you need

Subscribe to read this article and over 2,500 more!

Subscribe today!

If you're already a subscriber, log in here.

One thought on “How Do Animals Choose What to Eat? Part 1 – Mother Knows Best

  1. After sweeping a dusting of new snow off the driveway, I went and watched our cattle pushing through a foot of recent snow. To eat the stockpiled fescue underneath.
    For a 9-month calf, this was his first snowfall, so he began eating the broomstraw off the broom I’d laid down. Wish I’d taken a picture of the contrasting food choices.

    Mom was showing by example: This stockpiled fescue under the snow is way better than eating the dead stems above the snow!

Comments are closed.

Translate »