Most of us know that the current drought is the worst drought to hit the United States in over 50 years. But, what most of us don’t know about is the direct effect this drought is having on the quality of our meat and dairy supply.
The media, along with the federal government, are doing a great job of keeping us in the dark regarding the drastic measures being taken to keep local supermarkets stocked full of beef and dairy products at a time when the nation’s corn industry—our #1 producer of cattle feed—has come to a grinding halt.
So What Are Our Livestock Being Fed During This Drought?
According to Ki Fanning, a nutritionist at Great Plains Livestock Consulting in Eagle, Nebraska, “Everybody is looking for alternatives”. So, what are these alternatives? Well, Mike Yoder, a dairy farmer in Kansas City, Missouri is getting a great deal on ice cream sprinkles. Other farmers have resorted to feeding their cattle cookies, chocolate bars, gummy worms, marshmallows, fruit loops, orange peels, dried cranberries, distiller’s grains (a byproduct of ethanol manufacturing), cottonseed hulls, rice products, potato products, peanut pellet and Wheat “middlings,” (a byproduct of milling wheat for flour that contains particles of flour, bran, and wheat germ). Basically, today cattle are being fed anything that will replace the starchy sugar content typically delivered to them via corn.
Ms. Fanning goes on to state, “It’s kind of funny the first time you see it but it works well. The big advantage to this is that you can turn something you normally throw away into something that can be consumed. The amazing thing about a ruminant, a cow, is that you can take those type of ingredients and turn them into food.”
So What’s Wrong With Feeding Cattle A Steady Diet of Junk Food?
Well, as if feeding cattle corn and soy, (genetically modified crops that are sprayed heavily with scary pesticides) isn’t bad enough, now we are feeding our cattle a diet high in high fructose corn syrup, sugar, artificial preservatives and dyes as well as empty calories that can drive any living creature towards Diabetes and cancer.
But, the most disturbing aspect of feeding cattle candy is the fact that many of these sweets contain gelatin which is made from the skins and bones of cows, pigs and horses. So, by feeding cattle these sweets farmers are essentially driving them to self-cannibalize. Forcing farm animals, especially cows which have evolved to eat nothing but grass, to self-cannibalize is a highly dangerous practice which in 1986 led to a massive Mad Cow Disease outbreak in Britain.
Now I am not saying that this practice will also lead to a Mad Cow Disease outbreak. What I am saying is that we need to be wary of farmers cutting corners and playing Russian Roulette with the health of their cows for the sake of profits.
In 1986 British farmers chose to supplement their cattle’s’ protein intake by feeding them an animal by-products feed in order to avoid the high cost of soy-feed with horrific consequences. Today, American farmers have resorted to similarly reckless and unregulated behavior in order to cut operations costs. But worst yet, no one knows if these actions have any consequences. Therefore, even though these feeding practices may seem harmless on the surface, its important to keep in mind that they also demonstrate a lack of care (both from the government’s perspective as well as the farmers’ perspective) regarding our health as well as the health of the animals being fed these cheap processed foods
Photo Courtesy of: MacieKlew