The worst drought the U.S. has experienced in a century has caused cattle farmers to take some drastic approaches to animal feed. For instance, Mike Yoder, an operator of about 450 dairy cows on a northern Indiana farm, has been using ice cream sprinkles to nourish the herd.
You heard me. Ice cream sprinkles.
The drought has caused corn prices to skyrocket, meaning feed become more expensive. Dairy producers and feed lot operators are scrambling to feed their animals, so brokers are snatching up discarded food wherever they can find it and are sending it out to the highest bidder.
Gummy worms, cookies, marshmallows, dried cranberries, orange peels, and fruit loops are among the starchy items being used to replace corn. It’s all about the right amounts of fat, sugar, and energy.
“It’s kind of funny the first time you see it but it works well,” says Ki Fanning, a nutritionist at Great Plains Livestock Consulting in Eagle, Nebraska. “The big advantage is that you can turn something you normally throw away into something that can be consumed. The amazing thing about a ruminant, a cow, you can take those types of ingredients and turn them into food.”
Feed is the largest expense for cattle farmers, as the food must supply protein and energy that meets the giant animals’ nutritional needs. The prices of these “co-products” varies from place to place, but savings between 10 and 50 percent are not uncommon. Compared to the fact that some areas have virtually no supply of corn or soy whatsoever, it’s an alright deal; even if prices of these products are gradually starting to increase.
This means supermarket prices could skyrocket if cows are invading the cereal aisle, too. It’s a whole new level of competition; if my Dad’s future ribeye steak is going to be competing with me for a bowl of Fruit Loops, I hope it at least tastes like sweet and sour beef when it reaches his plate.
Image CC licensed by XNAHandkor