I think I have a nose for investigative journalism. Some stories just jump right off the page and demand that I do some research. For instance, this morning I saw a story titled Cows Eating Candy During The Drought. I had visions of cows buying Snickers bars and Big Gulps down at the local 7-Eleven and cows trick or treating while dressed up as princesses and ninjas. The investigative journalist in me had to check it out.
I was somewhat disappointed to find no mention of trick or treating cows in the article. However, the story was still interesting.
Apparently the drought is sending corn prices off the charts, which is making it very expensive for ranchers to feed their livestock because cows are notoriously big eaters. That’s why they’re called “cows”. For the record, I’m not judging them for their appetite nor would I advocate making them buy two tickets on an airplane. Not every animal can be built like a cheetah, so let’s be a little more tolerant here, people. Besides, who wants to sit next to a cheetah on an airplane? It would eat your head. We need to be logical about this.
Anyway, according to the article, Joseph Watson over at Mayfield’s United Livestock Commodities couldn’t afford to feed his cattle corn anymore, so earlier this year, he started feeding them second-hand candy.
(Enrollment in animal dentistry is probably skyrocketing as I type.)
The packaged candy comes from various companies at a discounted rate because it is not fit for store shelves. I didn’t know that candy went bad and judging from the Halloween candy I got when I was younger, neither did any of the people in my neighborhood. I wish some thoughtful rancher had been around back then to take the stale chocolate and petrified Dum Dums off the hands of my neighbors, even if it meant that I would eat it later covered in A1 Steak Sauce at our local Sizzler.
Watson mixes the candy with an ethanol byproduct and a mineral nutrient. He says the cows have not shown any health problems from eating the candy, and are gaining weight as they should, which makes sense. I gain weight when I eat a steady supply of candy. I also find myself a little irritable. I wonder if Watson is having problems with grumpy cows. I wonder if his ranch looks like a school playground the day after Halloween.
I was a little concerned that if the cows are completely sedentary, eating candy and drinking Big Gulp’s full of ethanol byproducts, they aren’t living a healthy lifestyle. That’s no way to live. Unless you’re a computer programmer.
This angle of the story demanded further investigation.
I contacted my confidential source, Lindsay Lohan (and by “confidential” I mean completely fabricated), who seems to exist just fine on candy and ethanol. She suggested that the ranchers take the cows clubbing for exercise. I told her that the idea was ridiculous. Obviously the cows don’t have anything cute to wear. They’d never get into any quality Los Angeles nightclubs. Then Lindsay and I got in a fist fight and her parole officer had to break it up.
To be honest, I didn’t completely understand what an ethanol byproduct was. It sounded like something I might have produced after a night of collegiate drinking, but surely no one would feed that to cows.
In order to speak intelligently about it I did what any knowledgeable journalist would do and googled “ethanol byproduct”. There I discovered an article filled with somebody else’s investigative journalism that talked about how recent research at Kansas State University has found that cattle fed distiller’s grain have an increased prevalence of E. coli in their hindgut or, as I like to put it, poisonous junk in their trunk. In fact, the prevalence of E. coli was about twice as high in cattle fed distiller’s grain compared with those cattle that were on a diet lacking the ethanol byproduct.
They don’t know exactly why this is but they’re looking to find out why and then prevent it from happening because the relationship between cattle ranchers and ethanol producers is mutually beneficial. Distiller’s grain is a cheap food source and ethanol producers need an added source of income in case the world suddenly stops drinking heavily or Kentucky sinks into the ocean.
I think I’ve asked the important questions here.
Now if you will excuse me, I’m going to go perfect my new cocktail. I’m mixing whiskey, old Halloween candy and a Flintstone’s chewable and calling it a Cattle Feed Martini. I’m on my second one and I’m about ready to throw myself on a grill right now.