Cash-Strapped Farmers Feed Candy to Cows

Cows eating candyBy Aaron Smith

Cattle farmers struggling with record corn prices are feeding their cows candy instead.

That's right, candy. Cows are being fed chocolate bars, gummy worms, ice cream sprinkles, marshmallows, bits of hard candy and even powdered hot chocolate mix, according to cattle farmers, bovine nutritionists and commodities dealers.

"It has been a practice going on for decades and is a very good way to for producers to reduce feed cost, and to provide less expensive food for consumers," said Ki Fanning, a livestock nutritionist with Great Plains Livestock Consulting, Inc. in Eagle, Neb.

Feeding candy to cows has become a more popular practice in tandem with the rising price of corn, which has doubled since 2009, fueled by government-subsidized demand for ethanol and this year's drought. Thrifty and resourceful farmers are tapping into the obscure market for cast-off food ingredients. Cut-rate byproducts of dubious value for human consumption seem to make fine fodder for cows. While corn goes for about $315 a ton, ice-cream sprinkles can be had for as little as $160 a ton.

"As the price of corn has climbed, farmers either sold off their pigs and cattle, or they found alternative feeds," said Mike Yoder, a dairy farmer in Middlebury, Ind. He feeds his 400 cows bits of candy, hot chocolate mix, crumbled cookies, breakfast cereal, trail mix, dried cranberries, orange peelings and ice cream sprinkles, which are blended into more traditional forms of feed, like hay.

The farmer said that he goes over the feed menu every couple of weeks with a livestock nutritionist who advised him to cap the candy at 3% of a cow's diet. He said that the sugar in ice cream sprinkles seems to increase milk production by three pounds per cow per day.

Sugar also helps to fatten up beef cattle, according to livestock nutritionist Chuck Hurst, owner of Nutritech, Inc., in Carmen, Idaho, without any ill effects to the cow, or to the person consuming its meat or milk. He said that it's the sugar in the candy that's important, and that it provides "the same kind of energy as corn."

He added that farmers feed their cows a wide assortment of byproducts beyond candy to save money.

"One guy in Montana bought a whole carload of soda crackers as feed," he said. "He had to hire a guy to open all the boxes of soda crackers."

Yoder and other farmers buy their feed from brokers like Midwest Ingredients, Inc., of Princeville, Ill., which offers a wide assortment of byproducts, including cherry juice, fish meal, peanut butter, fruit fillings, tapioca and left-over grain from distilleries.

"The buyers of corn, or feed in general, are paying a lot of money so they're definitely out there shopping around looking for cheaper stuff," said Eric Johnson of Eagan, Minn., who owns MidWest Feed Ingredient Trading. "People are price conscious and they're resourceful. Stuff comes up and they hunt it down and try to save a little bit of money."

But there is a catch -- as the demand for candy-feed goes up, so does the price. Yoder said that he has become "more aggressive in bidding for [candy-feed] because of the high price of corn." But he added that the candy "started getting expensive because other people want it too."

Yoder said he's seen the price of sprinkles rise from $160 per ton -- which was about half the price of corn -- to about $240. But he still buys the candy.

"Any time I can make a change to save two cents or three cents a cow, that makes a difference," said Yoder. "Farming is a game of inches sometimes, or half-inches. Every little penny you can find to save, you do."

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thanks to people who keep buying e85. Stop buying e85

October 15 2012 at 8:44 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

They had to. All the corn went to Alcohol for our over priced gas, thanks to Obama and the democrats.

October 12 2012 at 5:38 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

The sad fact is the government in it's infinite wisdom has legislated ethanol as an oxegenate in gasoline which removes corn from the food stream.
Ethanol can be imported from Brazil at a very reasonable price IF U. S. the tariff was removed.
Brazil has unlimited lands to produce sugar cane.
America's corn could be returned to the food chain and we would all see more reasonable prices for ALL food products.
The purchase of the farm vote is one of the greatest back door taxes American's have ever suffered.

October 11 2012 at 12:26 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply

Well, feeding cows sugar will certainly help feed the yeast infections they get from eating corn! Corn is universally impregnated with mycotoxins. (fungal poisons) That's why so many of us are allergic to beef. (As is evidenced by retaining water, after eating beef.)

How do you make bread rise? Put yeast in warm water and feed it sugar. How do you make people fat? Give them antibiotics, or corn or some other food impregnted with mycotoxins, then feed them sugar (orgrains, that metabolize just like sugar.) for more information see

October 11 2012 at 10:52 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to Susie's comment

in addition to the mycotoxins you mentioned, about 90% of the corn grown is genetically modified.

October 11 2012 at 11:12 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Corn isn't natural food for cows! They should be eating grass. The corn messes up their digestion and increases the fat in their bodies.(it also increases the manure they produce)

October 11 2012 at 4:02 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Type your comment here
I worked for a trucking company over 10 years ago and they would regularly haul out of a cereal plant the "fines" which is the stuff in the bottom of your cereal box; which with Fruit Loops and such is pretty much pure sugar. Farmers bought this to feed their cattle. Also had a load of butterfingers which had melted due to equip breakdown and they also bought that and fed it paper wrappers and all to the cattle.

October 11 2012 at 9:14 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Timothy Gray CCC

No candy corn cattle under Bush.

October 10 2012 at 11:34 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Timothy Gray CCC's comment

Is't that wonderful - no candy corn bush cattle!! -- Only UN-FED children going to sleep with empty stomachs every night!!
Way to go timmy!!!

October 10 2012 at 11:50 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

this is not new, i remeber hearing about pigs that tasted like chocolate because thats what they were feeding them

October 10 2012 at 10:50 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

What happened to letting cows graze in the fields? Remember mad cow disease - putting chopped up sheep meat in the cows feed.

October 10 2012 at 10:11 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to dssmalik's comment

What fields??

October 10 2012 at 11:50 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply

yum, man will allow anything to go on for $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$

October 10 2012 at 9:40 PM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply

No wonder why insulin resistance, metabolic syndrome and diabetes, along with all the related diseases they contribute to, such as cancer and heart disease, have been increasing in incidence over the past couple of decades. Corn is bad enough, especially the GMO corn that is now all we can get, but candy and colored sprinkles is just crazy.

October 10 2012 at 9:34 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to ilenedan2's comment

Don't eat beef then, if you are concerned about the content of what they eat. There are many ways to enjoy vegetables without meat.

October 11 2012 at 9:29 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply