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In the Media

article imageIs feeding cows ice cream, gummy worms the future of farming?

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By Andrew Moran
Sep 28, 2012 in Business
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Kansas City - In one of the worst droughts in United States history that occurred in August, corn price futures soared. With corn becoming scarce and expensive, farmers are turning to taco shells, gummy worms and fruit loops to feed their beef and dairy cows.
Digital Journal and other news outlets have extensively reported on genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and genetically modified foods. But what if consumers of meat digest beef and dairy from cows that eat junk food?
Due to the destruction of corn crops and skyrocketing corn prices, brokers collect discarded food products and sell them to the highest dairy producer and lot operator bidders. These individuals are in a frenzy to feed their animals.
What are these farmers feeding their animals? Reuters discovered a wide mix of Oreos and other cookies, fruit loops, marshmallows, gummy worms, taco shells and cranberries. They are feeding the beef and dairy cows these items in order to replace the sugar content that is usually found in the corn.
Kansas dairy farmer Orville Miller told Marketplace.org that he’s replacing approximately five percent of his cow feed with chocolate, while Ki Fanning at Great Plains Livestock Consulting in Nebraska said others are using cereal, French fries and ice cream sprinkles. Fanning added companies look for items that are either broken or spoiled in some way.
“Everybody is looking for alternatives. It’s kind of funny the first time you see it but it works well,” said Fanning in an interview with Ecorazzi.com. “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.”
Bran Dill, a spokesperson at Hansen Mueller, a company that salvages these products, says the price for chocolate has more than doubled from $80 a ton to $200 because the demand is growing. However, it is still much cheaper than corn.
Meanwhile, Marilyn Noble, Communications Director at the American Grassfed Association (AGA), criticized these groups and farmers for feeding their cattle livestock junk food. She argues that cows were meant to eat grass not candy.
Although these items are used in the feed offerings, operators still use other non-corn alternatives, such as rice, potato, peanut and cottonseed.
It was reported Friday that corn prices jumped after it was confirmed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture that inventories dropped to an eight-year low, which has signalled a strong market demand for grain.
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