BEEF Daily

Candy Corn Isn’t Just For Kids Anymore


Some farmers are looking for cheap cattle feed alternatives to corn and look to candy.

Cattlemen are certainly tough and resilient individuals. Natural disasters, escalating land prices, high input and cattle feed costs and transition challenges don’t get these folks down too easily. Despite these challenges, cattlemen thrive by being as efficient as possible in the way they manage their cowherd while producing high-quality beef. As corn prices skyrocket, many are wondering how today's high feed prices will impact cowboys across the country. Some are looking into alternative solutions to the problem.

We’ve seen producers feed cattle everything from algae to beer, and there are some cattlemen who are looking at a surprisingly sweet treat to feed their livestock -- candy.

As reported on MSN Healthy Living, “Candy for breakfast, lunch and dinner might be a five-year-old’s dream, but it’s the new reality for dairy cows in some parts of the country. This summer’s drought has driven up the cost of corn feed, forcing farmers to look for cheaper and more plentiful alternatives. And they’ve found them in the form of gummy bears, marshmallows and even cookies. It’s Halloween every day on Mike Yoder’s farm in northern Indiana, where his herd of 450 cows feasts on a colorful mix of candy sprinkles—the kind usually seen atop birthday cakes and ice cream sundaes. These treats provide an adequate substitute for the starchy sugar content cows usually get from corn."

Kentucky Rancher Joseph Watson mixes candy with ethanol by-products and a mineral supplement, according to

Kansas dairy farmer Orville Miller is replacing 5% of his cattle feed with chocolate. However, there are many who think this cattle feed additive is not only wacky, but it's also wrong. In an article published on Marketplace Sustainability, "Some groups criticize farmers and ranchers for feeding livestock chocolate and the like. Marilyn Noble at the Grassfed Association says, 'Cows were meant to eat grass, not candy.'"

It’s hard to believe October is here, and for many, that means stocking up on candy corn and other festive autumn goodies to pass out on Halloween. You better get your supplies now before ranchers sweep the shelves of sweets for their cattle!

Of course, that last statement is very tongue in cheek, but cattle are marvelous consumers of a wide array of feedstuffs that no other species can eat? What do you think about candy as an addition to a beef cattle feed ration? What other interesting ingredients have you heard of, or had experience with?

Discuss this Blog Entry 11

wesmetzker (not verified)
on Oct 2, 2012

I'm herd manager on 600 cow dairy farm in south central pa. we get just as creative with dairy cattle too feeding bi products from Hershey's chocolate factory,bakery bi products, and glycerin bi products from ethanol, and even straw to help digestion. dairy or beef we all have to be creative and honestly we all know there is nothing better than corn. but the high prices draws us to look else where.

Katlyn Rumbold (not verified)
on Oct 2, 2012

This is so interesting. It's true, we all have to be creative! My friend used to feed her animals Oreo cookies and we used to give ours Mountain Dew on occasion.

Tad (not verified)
on Oct 2, 2012

Why not just feed them garbage or human waste? As long as they can get it down their throats that is all that matters right? Garbage in, garbage out.

Randy Kuhn (not verified)
on Oct 2, 2012

Seriously?! What on earth would posses any producer with half a conscious, not to mention any BQA producer, to even consider these options? Tad had a crude way of expressing his opinion but he's got a point! In my opinion, I think it would benefit all Beef producers not to mention their livestock, to try producing within their lands means. Don't try and raise 45 or 45,000 cattle on 50 acres.

Anonymous (not verified)
on Oct 2, 2012

At least it is better than pelletized poultry litter. If you have a waste product, AAFCO will give it an outstanding, catchy name to cover up what it really is. Has ANYONE thought about all the meat and bone meal being fed to poutry that is contained in the litter?????

Anonymous (not verified)
on Oct 3, 2012

This is outrageous. At some level, you have to take a moral stand and consider the final consumer. They feed chickens fish product to have omega 3 eggs. Why wouldn't feeding candy to cows have the same impact (though negative)? I don't want to be a vegetarian, but I'm considering it more and more because people keep tainting the food source.

D. A. (not verified)
on Oct 3, 2012

I must reiterate what I have said here before: that cattle are ruminants, designed over the course of the eons with four-chambered stomachs to digest grass, legumes, forbs and leaves that human beings can't digest. If we provide the wrong kind of feed for our domesticated ruminant livestock, we are being very short-sighted, and interfering with the proper adaptation of our animals. Our cows graze what grows from the ground where they live. Period. Yes, even in the worst drought since the Dust Bowl. Yes, even when the armyworms take all the best after a rain when the pastures come back, leaving only stems and weeds. When they have been selected for many generations from survivor-type stock, cattle are fit to survive and know how to do well on the stuff their Creator provided for them. Cattle adapt to forage. They can even adapt to eating a variety of weeds if that is all that is available to them. Asking our domesticated ruminant livestock to adapt to a diet of corn or candy corn is no way to ensure the survival of our own species in the future.

Anonymous (not verified)
on Feb 27, 2013

Its shocking so many people that commented here have little to no understanding of the ruminant digestive system. Cows don't eat forage, they eat the bugs that are digesting that forage in the rumen. That fourth stomach functions similiar to a human/pig stomach. Anybody read a ruminant nutrition book or pay attention in ruminant nutrition class lately? Yes ruminants have the amazing abiltiy to feed on forages, but that simple stomach gives them the flexibiltilty to digest just about anything. Bypass protein anyone? Does anyone see molasses or protien cubes growing out in pastures? Educate yourselves people! Cattle are gonna out survive us no matter what we feed them.

Anonymous (not verified)
on Nov 23, 2013

Everybody want great food but no one wants to pay what it cost to raise it!

AtoZ Vet Supply (not verified)
on Dec 10, 2013

I always get my cattle products from I hope they have the corn based eating products for my herd. May be it will lead to improved health of cattle in my dairy farm.

on Mar 6, 2016

You people are what's wrong with this country. The cattle farmers such as myself had no idea there was going to be a drought or corn shortage. When something like this happens you have to feed the herd whatever you can so they don't starve. Just cause your land could hold x amount of cattle for the last 5 years does not mean it will in a drought. You are the same people that would have the poor cattle farmers thrown in jail for thin cattle. If you don't live off the income of a cattle farm please don't presume you know better than those of us who do.

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BEEF Daily Blog is produced by rancher Amanda Radke, one of the U.S. beef industry’s top social media “agvocates.”


Amanda Radke

Amanda Radke is a fifth generation rancher from Mitchell, S.D., who has dedicated her career to serving as a voice for the nation’s beef producers. A 2009 graduate of South Dakota State...

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