When the people from the drug company came out to visit Tyler Karney at Ordway Feedyard here on Coloradoâ€™s eastern plains, he was a little skeptical.
They said their product, Zilmax, could put another 30 pounds on an animal in the last days before slaughter. Then he started blending it into the feed for the 6,500 head of Holsteins at this huge feedlot.
Gummy bears, chocolate, ice cream, and chewing gum:Â 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.
Crops are not the only things wilting in the sweltering summer of 2012; cattle, the largest animals, on the farm are also under stress.
Some cattle producers are protecting their herds by putting them hoop barns, which are gaining acceptance across the Midwest. The simple structures are made from stretching fabric over strong metal arches, or hoops, providing vital shade and protection from rain, snow or sun.
Tanner Rowe, a cattle producer near Dallas Canter, Iowa, has found hoop barns can give cattle a much-needed break from sweltering heat.