Candy for Cows: One Rancher’s Drought-Desperate Solution

Kentucky rancher Joseph Watson says: ‘It’s hard to believe it will work, but we’ve already seen the results.’

Gummy worms and other delicious second-hand candy is a cheaper corn substitute for farmers. (Photo: Rein Rache/Creative Commons via Flickr)

Aug 23, 2012· 1 MIN READ
Jason Best is a regular contributor to TakePart who has worked for Gourmet and the Natural Resources Defense Council.

You’ve heard of grass-fed beef, no doubt, and Kobe-style beef. But candy-fed beef?

If you were waiting for your daily dose of “What’s this world coming to?,” this is it.

To be clear, though, the newfangled beef isn’t some gourmet grab for tastier, high-quality meat. As much of the country remains in the grip of a severe drought, corn prices are going through the roof, and at least one rancher has turned to a novel solution: feeding candy to his herd.

“Just to be able to survive, we have to look at other sources for nutrition,” Kentucky rancher Joseph Watson told WPSD, a local NBC affiliate.

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Watson’s 1,400 head of cattle haven’t been eating corn-based feed for a while now. As corn prices started to rise, Watson began plying them with chocolate.

“It’s hard to believe it will work, but we’ve already seen the results of it now, so we’re pretty happy with it,” he told WPSD.

How the cows feel, of course, remains a mystery. Lest you have an image of pleasantly plump bovines dreamily munching away on an unlimited supply of Godiva chocolate, it’s worth pointing out that for the super-sweet feed to be cheaper than corn, it has to cost less than premium candy. A lot less.

Watson’s cows are feasting on “secondhand candy,” which is dubiously described as coming “from various companies at a discounted rate because it’s not fit for store shelves.” The candy is then mixed with “an ethanol byproduct and a mineral nutrient.”


“Salvage is a problem for a lot of these companies, and they’re proud to have a place to go with it,” Watson says (though one might quibble with the concept of “pride” here).

So if in a few months from now, you happen to detect a hint of stale Snickers in your burger, you’ll know why.

Would you knowingly purchase candy-fed beef? Let us know in comments.