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Cattle diets typically consist of corn, hay, and other plant-based foods, but farmers occasionally feed theirs cows with skittles.

Feeding candy to cows has become a more popular practice 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.

 Mike Yoder, a dairy farmer in Middlebury, Ind 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. The candies such as skittles are mixed in with other materials to create animal feed.

 

 

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