ELKHART COUNTY – With corn prices going up due to the drought, an Elkhart County farmer is taking a creative approach to find a cheaper way to feed his cattle.
His solution? Using ice cream toppings, cookies, and cereal to mix in with the feed.
Like many dairy farmers, Mike Yoder tries to find the right nutritional balance for his livestock and mixes among other things in their feed whole cotton seed, hay and corn.
But lately, the price of corn has shot up, which adds to his feed cost.
“Because of the drought, we have experienced record-high corn prices this year, and I have to buy all this corn, so we are at about $315 a ton this year for corn,” said Yoder.
So, he looked around for a replacement for corn and found this – a mixture of ice cream sprinkles, cereal and sometimes a mix that includes cookies and bakery products.
“I can buy that for between $168 and $200 a ton, obviously a pretty big savings for us.”
Yoder is able to get that in a mixture.
“One of the resources we have, there are some commodity brokers that actually specialize in dealing with left over products from the food industry, so they broker that, and that’s who I contract with or bid through,” Yoder explained.
The sugary mixture not only helps with his cows’ digestive system, but may satisfy their sweet tooth, if they have one. Now, he says the special sugar sprinkles and cereal blends is only a small portion of the balanced meals he serves them but points out that overall nutrition is a big priority for his life stock.
Just like your kids with sweets at home, moderation is the key.
“We hire a professional nutritionist that actually balances this diet,” Yoder said. “In fact, I would say my cows are better fed nutritionally than the average human, primarily because they can only eat what we put in front of them. They do not have access to a refrigerator.”
Right now, Yoder is not sure if the cows like the alternative feed over their regular diet.