Extensive drought damage throughout the U.S. has led to the smallest corn crop in six years, and in turn a dramatic increase in price for the versatile foodstuff. Beef farmers in particular are incredibly reliant on corn to feed their vast numbers of livestock, and the shortage has seen many farmers creatively supplementing their herd’s diets. The Vancouver Sun reports:
In the mix are cookies, gummy worms, marshmallows, fruit loops, orange peels, even dried cranberries. Cattlemen are feeding virtually anything they can get their hands on that will replace the starchy sugar content traditionally delivered to the animals through corn.
“Everybody is looking for alternatives,” said Ki Fanning, a nutritionist with Great Plains Livestock Consulting in Eagle, Nebraska. “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.”
What effect this food will have on the health of livestock and quality of the eventual product harvested from these animals in yet to be seen, but there is a certain irony that the majority of calories in these sweet foods come from high-fructose corn syrup. For the time being, there are measures in place to ensure livestock consume a sufficient amount of essential nutrients, and at least the road from factory farm to dinner plate is paved with candy.