Cattlemen are certainly tough and resilient individuals. Natural disasters, escalating land prices, high input and cattle feed costs and transition challenges don’t get these folks down too easily. Despite these challenges, cattlemen thrive by being as efficient as possible in the way they manage their cowherd while producing high-quality beef. As corn prices skyrocket, many are wondering how today's high feed prices will impact cowboys across the country. Some are looking into alternative solutions to the problem.
We’ve seen producers feed cattle everything from algae to beer, and there are some cattlemen who are looking at a surprisingly sweet treat to feed their livestock -- candy.
As reported on MSN Healthy Living, “Candy for breakfast, lunch and dinner might be a five-year-old’s dream, but it’s the new reality for dairy cows in some parts of the country. This summer’s drought has driven up the cost of corn feed, forcing farmers to look for cheaper and more plentiful alternatives. And they’ve found them in the form of gummy bears, marshmallows and even cookies. It’s Halloween every day on Mike Yoder’s farm in northern Indiana, where his herd of 450 cows feasts on a colorful mix of candy sprinkles—the kind usually seen atop birthday cakes and ice cream sundaes. These treats provide an adequate substitute for the starchy sugar content cows usually get from corn."
Kentucky Rancher Joseph Watson mixes candy with ethanol by-products and a mineral supplement, according to KLTV.com.
Kansas dairy farmer Orville Miller is replacing 5% of his cattle feed with chocolate. However, there are many who think this cattle feed additive is not only wacky, but it's also wrong. In an article published on Marketplace Sustainability, "Some groups criticize farmers and ranchers for feeding livestock chocolate and the like. Marilyn Noble at the Grassfed Association says, 'Cows were meant to eat grass, not candy.'"
It’s hard to believe October is here, and for many, that means stocking up on candy corn and other festive autumn goodies to pass out on Halloween. You better get your supplies now before ranchers sweep the shelves of sweets for their cattle!
Of course, that last statement is very tongue in cheek, but cattle are marvelous consumers of a wide array of feedstuffs that no other species can eat? What do you think about candy as an addition to a beef cattle feed ration? What other interesting ingredients have you heard of, or had experience with?