Farmers Feed Hungry Cattle Chocolate in Lieu of Corn

By Vickie Frantz, Staff Writer
October 15, 2012; 4:44 AM ET
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Cattle farmers faced with the rising cost of feed corn are looking for alternative products to feed their animals.

Prices of feed corn has more than doubled, from $3.65 per bushel in August 2010 to $7.35 per bushel in September 2012, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Severe droughts in the Central U.S. States forced many cattle ranchers to sell their livestock due to the inability to feed them. The rising cost of feed has left those who still own cattle searching for the least expensive feed available.

State Departure from Normal Dryness Rank Dryness Record Year State Departure from Normal Dryness Rank Dryness Record Year
Iowa -5.16 in. 11th 1988 Michigan -0.24 in. 48th 1934
Illinois -8.79 in. 4th 1936 Nebraska -7.15 in. 2nd 1934
Indiana -7.72 in. 6th 1895 Kansas -4.98 in. 10th 1936

This table reports the rainfall totals departures from average covering the months of January to August 2012 for the six largest U.S. corn producing states. The information was provided by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Now, the cattle owners are turning to some sweet treats as cheaper, alternative feed. Powdered hot chocolate mix, gummy worms, marshmallows and ice-cream sprinkles are a few of the sugary substitutes farmers are mixing in with the cow's regular feed, according to CNN.

The farmers purchase out-of-code product at a reduced price. CNN reported that ice-cream sprinkles can be purchased for as little as $160 a ton. Currently, a ton of corn costs about $294.

"They are purchasing product that can't be sold but is still edible," said American Sprinkle Company Vice President of Sales Ken Brockman. "We can't even make the sprinkles for that price, the sugar and starch used to make it cost more than $160 a ton."

Farmers are mixing powdered hot chocolate mix and marshmallows into their cattle feed due to a shortage of corn. Photograph is courtesy of

The sugar contained in the candy is not harmful to the cattle. Human consumable product from the animals will not be harmful to people due to sugars consumed by the cows.


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