It made local news here in Wisconsin this winter when Skittles were found scattered on a rural highway in the middle of the night. Was it vandals? Was someone trying to make a weird statement? Nope – Someone was feeding it to dairy cows!!! Many of my nutritionist friends hit the blogs and local news to help explain how the cows can utilize this quick energy for cattle.
LaBudde Group gets involved in this system by working with the food plants. We partner with different food companies and help find homes for those products that are out of spec or not pretty enough for humans. This food can not meet the high standards for humans, but is perfectly safe to be mixed in and used in the pigs/cows’ feed. Let’s take a look at corn starch.
CORN STARCH: You are probably mostly used to seeing corn starch in 1 lb boxes at the store and you utilize it to thicken a sauce at home. But it has so many uses in manufacturing and food production as a bulk ingredient. A large company manufactures corn starch to be used for baking or candy making. They package it into 50 lb bags or large 2000 lb totes. The plant tests each batch in their quality control labs for nutritional value, but also bacterial counts, viscosity, and particle size. A company may manufacture hundreds of varieties of starch that all do a particular job for the food company that purchases it. If the starch doesn’t pass the tests, it won’t be sold for food use. The company doesn’t want to send out inferior product.
This is when LaBudde comes in to help. We don’t want this product being landfilled. We help locate feedmills and farmers that can handle bags or totes of this starch to feed to their cattle. It is a high energy feed. It can replace ground corn, a staple in cattle feed. Carbohydrates are an important part of feeding cattle, but you can only add a certain amount. If you feed too much, it will adversely affect the bacteria and microbes in the rumen of the cow that helps them digest their feed and help create amino acids. The pH level can also drop and become too acidic for the cow.
Starch is not only used for food. Adhesives can utilize corn starch, plastic gloves use corn starch so they don’t stick, charcoal for grilling your steak needs starch to help produce the briquettes. It is also utilized in the drywall and paper industries.
The US has the safest food system in the world. Every bite produced is checked for contamination and monitored for things like metal contamination, salmonella exposure, and is given an expiration date. Products like corn starch will often be perfectly safe after their expiration date, but we have established standards with which food companies must comply. This produces an excess of product that is “not safe for human consumption”. How can we use this? We don’t want to landfill thousands and thousands of lbs of product. Over the years, LaBudde and others have worked to find these niche uses for these off spec items. LaBudde to the rescue: Helping farmers lower their operating costs and helping prevent waste of valuable products.
Not really rescue, but we partner with the food company and start working on options for the corn starch, candy, corn sweetener, or other ingredients that can fall into “carbohydrate” definition of products.
The four chamber stomach that cows have give them an advantage in being able to use these off spec materials. Their microbial population in the stomach works with fermentation of the feed they eat and are able to produce amino acids. Amino acids are the building blocks their systems use to produce milk and muscle that turns into delicious food for humans. Without animal agriculture,, we would miss out on this way for our society to turn “garbage” into nutritious food for your supper table.