Strange Cattle Feed

Strange Cattle Feed

Bob Larson
Bob Larson
From the Ag Information Network, I’m Bob Larson. When feedstocks are tight, think outside the box. That advice comes from Joe Bender, veterinarian and a professor at the University of Pennsylvania.

He says food destined for the trash could help meet the needs of dairy cattle, even some of the stranger things …

BENDER … “Probably the weirdest one we’ve used is recycled ketchup. It was ketchup that was a mistake and had too much sugar in it. Not good for people, but it was good for dairy cows. So, we replaced some molasses with recycled ketchup. It came in on a tanker, and we pumped it into our tank. So, that’s probably the weirdest.”

But it doesn’t stop there …

BENDER … “We’ve done corn starch. We’ve done chickpea flour. We’ve done cereal fines. We say cereal fines rather than floor sweepings. A lot of the chocolate products, especially on the East Coast with our relative proximity to the Hershey Company. Those always seem to be floating around. Then we also do a lot of the bakery products, whether it’s pretzels or some kind of pasta, and some kinds of cereal become very common.”

Before you try something new to stretch your cattle food dollars, Bender says it’s important to prepare …

BENDER … “That’s your nutrient analysis. Cows generally don’t care if they get their sugar from molasses, ketchup, or from discarded oranges. Cows have a nutrient requirement. They don’t have a ketchup or molasses requirement, so they can handle it very well.

Bender says they’re using some of these rescue or emergency ingredients at lower inclusion rates, at least to start. If the economics work out and cattle performance is fine, they might push it a little bit higher.

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