Tuesday, October 23, 2012
It’s that time of year when everyone’s stocking up on candy. That includes some Kansas farmers, but not because it’s Halloween.
The candy is for their cows. The drought is making it tough to find enough of what the livestock normally eat.
California isn't the only state with happy cows. These Kansas cows are pretty darn happy. The reason why is they get chocolate and even tacos in their food ration.
It’s not surprising honey bees are swarming of the heaping pile of chocolate candy. Instead of making it into the store shelved in neatly packaged boxes, the chocolate delights with probably only some cosmetic defect are sold to dairy farmers, like Orville Miller.
But now the chocolates will be mixed in with other, more normal livestock feed grain to give the cows the energy needed to produce milk. The Hutchinson area farmer says if the rejected sweets weren’t being used to feed the cows, they’d be thrown away.
"Get some value out of it instead of filling up the landfills,” Miller says. “That's the way we look at it. Anytime you can use a byproduct and feed it and use it to produce a healthy product like milk, then it seems like everyone is winning on that deal."
Not all the chocolate is in bite-sized pieces. Some of it comes in big slabs, which have to be broken up. Besides chocolate, the cows eat rejected tacos from a local food plant.
"Basically, we've got taco shells, but there are also some refried beans in there," Miller says.
But no meat, he says. Meat can’t be fed to livestock.
"This is primarily just corn, a high energy corn product,” he says. “After a day or two, they love it. The only thing you have to watch is they tend to get too fat."
Miller has been adding these items to his cow feed for a few years. More farmers as of late are turning to food byproducts, like sweets, because the price of corn has increased due to the drought. Miller says his cows are content and are going about doing what they’re supposed to be doing, producing milk.
"It doesn't negatively affect the quality of the milk,” he says. “We're producing a quality good food that people can be assured that the quality is not affected. It's just a cheaper way of providing the same nutrients for these animals at a cheaper cost. We still turn out white milk every day. No chocolate milk."
So, like the dairy farmer says, the chocolate and the tacos in the feed doesn't change the taste of the milk. It still comes out vanilla. If you want chocolate milk, you're going to have to add the chocolate yourself.