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How cool would it be if your parents decided to substitute the vegetables on your dinner plate with candy? Believe it or not, that is exactly what a couple of Kentucky farmers have been doing for their herd of 1,400 cattle, for the past few months.
However Nick Smith and Joseph Watson, the owners of Mayfield-based United Livestock Commodities are not experimenting with the diet to see if they can create a gourmet cocoa-infused beef but because, it was the only solution they could come up with, to survive this year's severe drought.
Classified as one of the worst the US has had to endure in decades, it has resulted in destroying more than half the country's corn crop, which in turn, has pushed prices up to record levels. Since corn is the mainstay for most US cattle, farmers all over the country have been struggling to find a way to feed their herds without going bankrupt.
Nick and Joseph were no exception. With the price of corn rising from an average of four dollars to about eight or nine dollars a bushel, the farmers knew they had to seek out a temporary alternative - One that they could afford and would provide the cattle with enough calories to keep them healthy.
After sifting through various alternatives, they settled for candy, which (surprise, surprise) has a higher fat content than corn. It was also affordable since they are able to obtain disfigured candy that is not suitable for retail sales, directly from manufacturers at highly discounted prices.
However, before you start envying the bovines or getting concerned about all the sugar they are consuming, it is important to note that the candy makes up just 5-8% of their daily diet. The rest comprises of a healthier ethanol by-product and some mineral nutrients. That according to the farmers, is the perfect mix of nutritious (and probably delicious) meals for the cows.
Judging from how healthy their herd looks, the two are pretty happy with the results. Having said that, they do plan to switch back to corn once supply gets back to normal. The question is, will the cows be as willing to switch back to eating vegetables again? Hmm . . .