Why do bulls eat the earth

Bulls eat the earth as a result of a lack of any elements in their diet. Most often these are endemic violations, but as a result of improved transport links, this problem can arise today in any region.

Why do bulls eat the earth

The perversion of appetite in any mammals occurs when there is a lack of trace elements in food. In nature, animals make up for this deficiency thanks to water from rivers that flow from afar. River water, flowing through different regions, is saturated with substances contained in the soil.

Livestock, limited in the choice of feed and water, compensates for the lack of minerals by eating the land. The richest in micro- and macroelements is clay. The rest of the soil clogs the bull's stomach to no avail.

The bull eating the earth is a sign of some diseases related to metabolic disorders:

  • ketosis;
  • osteodystrophy;
  • hypocobaltose;
  • hypocuprosis.

"Pure" vitamin deficiencies usually do not lead to perversions of appetite.

Comment! Hypovitaminosis A in combination with a lack of a number of other elements leads to the development of osteodystrophy.


The most common type of ketosis is a lack of carbohydrate in the diet of cows and an excess of fat and protein. But the development of the disease can be caused by a chronic shortage of a whole range of chemicals:

  • manganese;
  • copper;
  • zinc;
  • cobalt;
  • iodine.

Perverted appetite is a symptom of a mild form of ketosis, when everything is simple enough to fix. Diagnosis is made after laboratory blood and urine tests. Treatment is carried out by adding missing elements to the feed.

Often the goby eats the earth out of boredom or hunger, since there is no grass yet


Disease in adult animals. Calves do not get sick. Osteodystrophy in bulls is usually recorded during the stall period in the absence of exercise and irradiation with ultraviolet rays.

The deficiencies of the content are superimposed on the winter deficiency of vitamins and chemicals:

  • phosphoric acid salts;
  • calcium;
  • vitamin A;
  • cobalt;
  • manganese.

The development of osteodystrophy is also facilitated by the violation of the ratio of these elements. The provoking factors are excess CO₂ in the room and protein in the diet.

With osteodystrophy, osteoporosis and softening of the bones (osteomalacia) develop. With these diseases, calcium is washed out of the animal's body, it develops "licks" or perversion of appetite. A bull released after winter for a walk begins to eat land, trying to make up for the deficit of missing micro- and macroelements.

After the diagnosis is established, the animals are balanced the diet and the necessary mineral and vitamin premixes are added.


The disease is typical only for certain regions, in the soil of which there is not enough cobalt. Hypocobaltose is found in areas where the land is well washed by rains, or in swampy areas. In an attempt to make up for the deficit of cobalt, livestock eat not only land, but also other little edible items, including the bones of other animals.

The diagnosis is made taking into account a biochemical blood test and checking the soil, feed and water for the content of the required metal. In case of deficiency, animals are prescribed cobalt salts and feeds with a high content of this element.

Podzolic soils are typical for northern regions with abundant rainfall.


It develops in areas with poor copper. With hypocuprosis, the bull eats the earth, as it instinctively tries to make up for the lack of metal in the body. Adult animals are less susceptible to hypocuprosis than young animals.Symptoms of the disease are more noticeable in calves, as copper deficiency primarily affects the development and growth of the calves. Adult cattle are diagnosed on the basis of blood biochemistry.

The disease is chronic and in advanced cases the prognosis is poor. For medicinal and prophylactic purposes, copper sulfate is added to the feed for bulls.

What to do if bulls eat the ground

First of all, it is worth donating blood for biochemical analysis. For some reason, the owners of the bulls taken for fattening prefer to diagnose “according to the grandmother’s principle”: they eat the earth, which means there is not enough chalk. Sometimes the "diagnosis" changes to a lack of vitamins. The latter are absent in the soil. And the bull, not receiving the necessary substances in the feed, continues to eat the soil.

In small quantities, the earth is not dangerous. In any case, cows often swallow it along with the plucked plants. But with mineral starvation, bulls eat too much land. They usually do not understand the types of soil, they eat it at the level of instincts. "Grazing" on black soil or sand, the animal will not make up for the lack of trace elements and will continue to eat the earth. The result will be mechanical intestinal obstruction. Clay will also be harmful if the bull eats too much of it.

Attention! Do not let the bull eat the earth on its own.

There is nothing difficult in making the bull not eat the earth. After receiving the results of the analysis, the premix with the missing elements is added to the feed. Sometimes it can really be calcium, but in this case it is better to mix chalk with feed, and not give it in pure form.


Since bulls eat the earth with a deficiency of elements, the owner's task is to provide them with a full-fledged diet. Sometimes it is enough just not to be afraid to use ready-made compound feed specially designed for cattle.

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