Candy is for Humans, not Cows

January 6, 2010 at 7:33 am 10 comments


I have recently been learning about the virtues of grass-fed beef, milk, cheese and butter. Industrial meat has always made me a little queasy. Here’s one more reason to choose and support farms that feed cows the food cows were meant to eat.

Close-up of a person's hands putting Gummy bears into a packet

In an item titled “Feedlot Cattle Fattened on Stale Gummy Bears,” the website EatWild exposes the sticky underside of commerical cattle feedlot practices. It turns out that alongside bakery scraps and plate scrapings and ground up who knows what, some commercial feedlots are feeding stale candy to cattle in an effort to reduce costs.

Here’s what a recent report by a University of Wisconsin Extension Nutritionist has to say about candy in dairy cattle diets:

Milk chocolate and candy are often economical sources of nutrients, particularly fat. They may be high in sugar and/or fat content. Milk chocolate and candy may contain 48% and 22% fat, respectively. They are sometimes fed in their wrappers. Candies, such as cull gummy bears, lemon drops, or gum drops are high in sugar content. … Upper feeding limits for candy or candy blends and chocolate are 5 and 2 lb. per cow per day, respectively.

Needless to say, all that candy is not so good for the cows. Cows, as you may recall from fourth grade, are vegetarian ruminants: they are designed to eat grass and similar “rough” vegetative matter, which they chew and digest slowly. When cows eat grass, the vegetable nutrients are transformed into essential fats and proteins in the milk and muscle. When cows eat candy, there’s less of that good nutrition in their meat. It’s still calories, but not much else.

Candy should not be part of a nutritious cow breakfast, or lunch or dinner for that matter. As for us humans, some candy every so often seems quite fine.

PS. I recently had my first taste of “raw” cow’s milk from pastured cows, cold but fresh, unprocessed and pure. WOW. Doesn’t need candy or sugar, it is sweet and delicious all on its own.

Source: reporting on “By-Product Feedstuffs in Dairy Cattle Diets in the Upper Midwest” Randy D. Shaver, Ph.D. Associate Professor, Extension Nutritionist, Department of Dairy Science, College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, University of Wisconsin.  Link:

Entry filed under: Current Candy News, Health.

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10 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Leona Flores  |  January 7, 2010 at 5:07 am


    I checked out the Eatwild website and noticed a glaring absence: Harris Ranch on the 5 Fwy by Coalinga in the San Joaquin Valley. Our local produce store Boneys sells Harris Ranch Beef and I know it’s touted as being high quality beef. However, going on the Harris Ranch website, they state:
    “All-vegetarian diet: formulated and approved by our animal nutritionist. No animal byproducts ever fed by Harris Ranch.” So I’m curious… is Harris Ranch not giving the whole story?

    And as far as getting quality beef, there are no farms down here south of the Grapevine. So one must know the list of non-candy fed Ranches when going into, say, Whole Foods or Henry’s. Just try asking your grocer’s butcher (aka meat packager) about the origin of their beef. I’m sure you’ll get an unsatisfactory answer… akin to the Starbucks employees not knowing when their beans were roasted.


    • 2. CandyProfessor  |  January 7, 2010 at 8:46 am

      That “all-vegetarian” claim does seem pretty vague! I think the only solution is to keep our own cows, and lock the candy up at night.

      • 3. Leona  |  January 7, 2010 at 5:34 pm

        I’m afraid I’m capable of neither….

  • […] it comes to meat. If the livestock ate it, you are eating it. Can you believe that some companies feed their livestock with batches of chocolate and candy that didn’t pass inspection and other items that are not a natural part of their diet?  And you don’t even want to think […]

  • 5. Candy or Famine for Some Cows | GIFAM Green Living Blog  |  August 21, 2012 at 11:11 pm

    […] References Candy Professor (2010, January 6). Candy is for Humans, not Cows. Candy Professor. Retrieved August 21, 2012, from […]

  • 6. Cathie  |  October 4, 2012 at 7:52 pm

    I feel we all need to open our eyes if we want any sort of decent life for our kids! The people in high places don’t give a damn about us…Stop eating th bad meat…stop drinking the bad milk…make a statement…go buy the great meat that is grazed like it should be and you won’t go back! To hell with Monsanto and Mcdonalds…greedy/sneaky bastards!

  • 7. Megan  |  November 1, 2012 at 1:33 pm

    Have you ever tried candy fed cattle milk in comparrison to non candy fed milk? Being uninformed you would not realize that unpasturized milk still has all the milk fat and sugar (lactose), thus making it sweet. The reason feed costs are so high and farmers have to find alternatives is because uninformed people run cars on ethonal, therefore raising cost and making farmers find alternatives to feed their families.

    • 8. Candy Professor  |  November 1, 2012 at 1:39 pm

      Well, you’re right, I haven’t done a taste test. Although lactose in milk is not the same kind of sugar as the sugar in candy (sucrose=fructose and glucose mostly). Candy feed defenders have pointed out that candy is nutritionally equivalent to the corn cows in industrial settings typically eat. But when cows eat their carbs in the form of candy, we can see how very perverse the whole system has become. Feeding corn to cars, candy to cows…what next?

      • 9. Megan  |  November 2, 2012 at 12:53 pm

        Are there any scientific research going on that shows the effects of candy on milk or meat? If so I would like to see them.

  • 10. cyndy  |  March 26, 2014 at 10:12 pm

    Today is march 26, 2014. The excuse of ‘needing’ to feed cows candy due to drought, or a cash strapped farmer is total BS !! My husband just delivered a truck load (18 wheeler) of junk candy to a huge cattle farm with profits of 2.5 million a year . The candy with wrappers still on are mixed with an ethanol by product and some type of minerals to feed these poor critters. This, like everything else in the US today is all about profits with no concern as to the health of the animal or the meat they sell to the public.


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Candy: A Century of Panic and Pleasure

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Candy in American Culture What is it about candy? Here you'll find the forgotten, the strange, the curious, the surprising. Our candy story, one post at a time.

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