Agriculture/Harvest Public Media
Wed September 26, 2012
Cows eating candy?
Gummy bears, chocolate, ice cream, and chewing gum: sounds like a junk food binge, but those products are actually helping some Iowa cattle producers stretch their dollars. Prices for corn-based livestock feed have jumped nearly 20 percent. So some farmers are using leftover or off grade items like partially melted candy bars, from local food processors, to supplement.
Director of the Iowa Beef Center, Dan Loy says animals with four stomachs like cows, can effectively use a lot of unusual nutrient sources. He says “those foods if you analyze them, actually have energy values very comparable to corn grain. The problem is that they are digested very quickly so they can cause some digestive upsets or stomach problems if they’re fed too quickly or in too large a quantity." Loy says it’s important for farmers to work with a nutritionist if they’re planning to introduce something new in the feed. Loy says he once asked a producer who fed Wrigley’s gum to his cattle about its nutritional value. The farmer said he wasn’t sure, but the animals did have fresh breath.