Drought forces farmers to offer cows a sweeter life

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As the worst drought in 50 years devastates this year’s U.S. corn crop, farmers are turning to ice cream sprinkles, marshmallows and gummy worms as alternatives to feed beef and dairy cows, Reuters reports.

The drought has driven corn prices sky high, so brokers are gathering discarded food products and putting them out for the highest bid to sustain lot operators who are scrambling to keep their livestock fed.

Cattlemen are using everything from candy and cookies to orange peels and even dried cranberries to replace the starchy sugar content usually delivered through a diet of corn.

``Everybody is looking for alternatives,” Ki Fanning, a nutritionist with Great Plains Livestock Consulting in Eagle, Neb., told Reuters. "It's kind of funny the first time you see it but it works well. The big advantage to that is you can turn something you normally throw away into something that can be consumed. The amazing thing about a ruminant, a cow, you can take those type of ingredients and turn them into food.''

Corn alternatives are in particular demand as supplies are so tight that in some areas of the country, feed corn is not available at any price.

According to Reuters, The U.S. Department of Agriculture said last month the harvest now under way will yield the smallest corn crop in six years due to the drought that is still gripping more than half of the nation.