Over the past two years several dairy farmers participated in an on-farm research trial to measure the effects of feeding apple cider vinegar to their dairy cows. The trial was conducted by Practical Farmers of Iowa. Trail participants Francis Blake (left) and Eric Bryden stroll through a pasture at Blake Family Farm, outside of Waukon in northeast Iowa.
“I think the apple cider vinegar promotes the right bacteria in the digestive system and helps to keep bad bacteria, like E. coli, from proliferating,” Scott Wedemeier says. He and his family have a dairy herd near Maynard in northeast Iowa. When his herd was fed vinegar mixed in with their feed, the cows produced an average of 9 more pounds of milk per day.
Kevin Dietzel, a dairy farmer near Jewell in central Iowa, didn’t see much of a return from providing apple cider vinegar to his milk cows. “I don’t spend money unless there’s a good reason to, and so far, the benefits seem marginal.”
Instead of mixing it with feed, another way to give apple cider vinegar to cattle is to put it in their drinking water. Kevin Dietzel used a dosimeter (pictured) to administer vinegar in the cow’s drinking water at a rate of 4 ounces per cow per day. The device injects vinegar from a 5-gallon bucket into the waterline at the desired concentration.
Proponents of feeding apple cider vinegar to dairy cattle, or putting it into the dairy herd’s drinking water, say it works by increasing the amount of acetic acid in the rumen. Farmers who are doing this say it enhances nutritional uptake and bolsters the immune system of the cattle.