Chicken Poop and Cookies: Food for Cows?

At one time someone posted a comment on my Raw Milk facebook page explaining how while he was in college (can’t remember which one) he did some kind of animal husbandry internship where it was his job to try to get cows to eat chicken litter. They had to try all kinds of things because the cows were not naturally inclined to eat it. For those of you wondering what chicken litter is, it is basically straw or wood shavings¬† and chicken poop that is scooped up off the floor of the chicken coop while cleaning it. Yum.

I had some skepticism when I first read that cows were fed old chicken house bedding that contained chicken manure, because it seemed so crazy to me, but after a little research into “feedstuffs” for cattle, there were all kinds of unsavory things that cows are fed. Here is an incomplete list of the things that I discovered on various university extension and cattle industry websites:

Chicken litter (Chicken manure and straw or wood chips)

Shredded newspapers soaked in molasses

Blood meal (dried blood from slaughter house waste)

Animal byproducts: fish meal, meat and bone meal, poultry by-product meal, etc. (slaughter house waste – wait, isn’t this what caused mad cow disease??)

Hydrolyzed Feather Meal (AKA chicken feathers – also slaughterhouse waste – this REALLY eliminates the humor in those chic-fil-a commercials)

Stale candy: gummy bears, gummy worms, m&ms, etc.

Pasta (old surplus pasta)

Surplus french fries and potato chips

Cannery waste (waste from canning factories where canned vegetables etc are processed)

Stale bakery goods: breads, donuts, pastries, etc.

Soy cakes (left over after making soy sauce)

Brewery waste: spent grains from making beer (this is what caused the problems that led lawmakers to decide that milk needed to be pasteurized after milk from cows that were fed brewery waste sickened and killed hundreds of people.)

Rotten potatoes that never made it to grocery store shelves. (This only after potatoes useable for making frozen french fries are separated out. My father used to work at a factory that made frozen french fries, and the place smelled like a sewer. The potatoes used for fries were rotten, but not completely mush yet. They would soak them in a solution to harden them again, then bleach them, then cut them into fries and flash freeze them. The potatoes that couldn’t even survive this process are sold as animal feed.)

Soy hulls (a byproduct from the soybean milling process)

Corn, cottonseed, soy, peanut, and other ‘meals’ (leftover from making oils)

Cotton gin trash (leftover from harvesting and milling cotton)

Peanut shells

Grain middlings (left over from milling flour)

Citrus pulp (leftover after making orange or grapefruit juice)

Cane byproducts (leftover after making sugar)

Beet pulp (from sugar beets in sugar production)

Sweetos a cheaper substitute for molasses. Sweetos guarantees the masking of unpleasant tastes and odor and improves the palatability of feed according to Monsanto spokesperson (so that cows will eat all of the unnatural feedstuffs that they are being given)

(See this list of cattle ‘feedstuffs’ from the University of Wisconsin)

Which of these cattle would you prefer as your food source?

If we are what we eat, (and so are our cows) what have you eaten today?