Think Outside The Box When Stretching Feed

What do you do when feedstocks are tight? Think outside the box. That’s the advice from the University of Pennsylvania Prof. Joe Bender, DVM.

Bender is a nutrition expert exploring how food destined for the trash could meet the needs of a dairy cow. He says Wisconsin and Pennsylvania have pretty similar dairy industries when it comes to farm size and scale. They also face similar challenges when it comes to severe weather, like drought, which is why stretching feed supply has become a focus.

He says 35-40 percent of food in the U.S. post-manufacturing gets wasted. Bender’s work focuses on how to tackle food waste while also finding solutions to stretch dairy feed supplies. He says a dairy cow can be a recycler of byproducts and waste.

Some examples: he has replaced molasses in a feed ration with rejected ketchup; he’s used chickpea flour, cereal that didn’t make the box, and old bakery items, like pretzels; he’s even taken rejected citrus, such as oranges, and added those to the ration.

And no, it doesn’t change the flavor of the milk.

How do you get access to these products? Bender says a good starting point to find these unique feed rations is with your local feed mill. They may already have those connections. Put together a list of all of your options for these unique feed sources. And work closely with your nutritionist. He recommends building/exploring relationships with food processors, and retail sectors, as well, that often have to pay money to dispose of food waste.