Friday, August 17, 2012

Chocolate Beef: You Are What You Eat.

I know, what a strange title for a blog post. But I came across an interesting and yet disturbing report about cattle growers using candy to feed and fatten livestock. Why you might ask? Well, as you all likely know, 2012 will see a drastic reduction in the corn crops available due to droughts in the US and Russia, and given that a certain amount of corn is ear marked for bio-fuel and other commercial uses, that leaves less corn on the market for cattle feed and human consumption. Therefore, grain prices will rise, livestock feed prices are rising already in anticipation of the shortage, and the end product...meat...will have a higher price also.

Where this increase will be evident is is the price difference between factory farmed meat and small producers. Currently it costs me a little under $28 for 50 lbs of grain for the cow which makes it 56 cents per lb. Flour for human consumption is now an average of 68 cents per lb locally by comparison. Commonly touted statistics tell us that it takes 7 lbs of grain to produce 1 lb of meat on a cow. That's misleading in that it takes 7 lbs of FOOD including hay, straw chaff, minerals and vitamins, grain, by-products etc to produce 1 pound of meat so obviously they are looking for ways of producing meat with the least amount of cost for the food. In order for a producer to put that steak or chop on your plate for $2 per lb, their costs for feed have to be less than 15 cents per lb to make a profit and in some cases they are looking for feed at 5 cents per lb. There are other costs involved in producing meat such as transportation, vet care, processing etc but the really flexible one for producers is feed.

Since my feed is costing me more than commercial guys can buy it for, and since my other costs are more per head due to my small numbers, my meat obviously sells for more at around $4 per lb. But they have a good natural diet of grain and grass, the chickens eat bugs and veggie scraps from the garden, it's just a more natural way of doing it.

So how do commercial producers find such cheap feed? Secondhand Chocolate.

No seriously, before you leave this page thinking I'm a crackpot, watch this video. Cows have been fed all sorts of interesting things in feedlots to get them to fatten faster. So why not chocolate? It's working at fattening humans all over the world...why not our cattle too? Follow the link below and then feel free to comment.

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