In light of this summer’s drought, and the subsequent rise in the cost of corn feed, farmers in some parts of the country have taken to feeding their dairy cows candy and other sweets as cheap alternatives.
Candy for breakfast, lunch and dinner sounds amazing, right? According to Reuters, it’s a sugary reality for dairy cows country-wide. Cows are living the sweet life on a daily diet of gummy bears, marshmallows, and even cookies.
Mike Yoder’s farm in northern Indiana is taking particular advantage of this strategy, leading the trend. According to MSN, his herd of 450 cows feast on a colorful mix of assorted treats. The diet his herd is on looks more like a toppings spread at a frozen yogurt joint, but he says that the candies provide a decent substitute for the starch and sugar content gotten from corn.
“It’s a pretty colorful load,” said Yoder. “Anything that keeps the feed costs down.”
Ki Fanning, a nutritionist with Great Plains Livestock Consulting in Eagle, Nebraska, said that a lot of other farmers are following suit.
“Everybody is looking for alternatives,” said Fanning. “It’s kind of funny the first time you see it but it works well. The big advantage to that is 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 type of ingredients and turn them into food.”
So are there health consequences for human beings consuming candy-fed produce? Not really, since the federal government mandates strict nutritional guidelines for livestock to make sure that they’re getting a healthy mix of energy, protein and nutrients. Just like with us, cows can work their sweet tooth all they want (within reason, of course).