Plastics are unpalatable and consequently when gobbled by cows, they stack up in the stomach, sometimes they might get trapped with different other materials and form hard ball-like pieces. The digestive system of the cow is complex, made of “4 stomachs”, making it extremely challenging for the material to pass out along with the dung, Cows may actually continue to live normally with these materials. However, problems result when there is obstruction in the system. Note that cows are indiscriminate feeders and will eat other foreign materials like nails and wires, rubber, ropes and other inorganic materials in their environment.

Why cows eat plastics
  • Pica – due to mineral deficiency
  • Predisposing factors in the environment where the cow searches for feed in garbage or left to graze in towns and dump sites where plastics bag are at their disposal
  • Out of curiosity
Sources of plastics in the farm
  • General household waste
  • Plastic material blown over by wind
  • Plastic wrapping materials for feeds and mineral supplements
  • Plastic ropes and wraps for hay bales and silage
What you will see when your cow has eaten plastics
  1. The cow progressively becomes weak and sluggish
  2. The cow loses appetite and may go off-feed
  3. The cow frequently experiences bloat due to blockage.
  4. The animal experiences polydipsia and frequently drinks a lot of water.
  5. The cow gradually loses body condition and in turn lose productivity and eventually may die.
What should you do then?

There is currently no available chemical that can be used to get rid of the plastic in the stomach. However;

the most effective, and sure, way is by physical removal by surgery done by a veterinarian.

Prevention & Control
  • By providing proper and sufficient mineral supplementation
  • By ensuring that the surrounding is clean and free of plastics
  • See to it that all plastic feed wrappings and hay bale ropes are properly disposed.