High corn prices have made U.S. farmers look for low-cost substitutes for livestock feed including crops from South America, day-old bakery products and expired pet food.
A historic spring corn planting delay has driven up local prices of corn, which is used to feed hogs, cattle and poultry, forcing farmers to seek alternatives including outdated baked goods, Reuters reported.
“We’re already starting to ration our corn out,” said Jim Heimerl, an Ohio farmer who sells 700,000 pigs per year. Heimerl has recently started using pet food in place of corn.
“It’s only going to get worse and it’s all because of the weather,” he added.
Usually the highest cost of raising farm animals, finding substitute feed has been critical for producers looking to keep prices for agricultural products competitive in the $150 billion U.S. meat and dairy industry. (RELATED: Rural America Is Going Bust As Farm Bankruptcies Soar)
Farmers have incorporated substitutes including dry pet food that is outdated or mislabeled and recycled bakery products like breads, cakes and other sweets to reduce their dependence on corn.
“The bushels that are here are precious,” said Minnesota farmer Randy Spronk, who has started replacing 10% of his hogs’ meals with crushed baked goods he buys from ReConserve, which recycles bakery, cereal grain and snack foods.
“We’re trying to make them last as long as we can,” Spronk said.
Foreign corn is another option farmers have explored. Prestage Farms, based in North Carolina, said it has fed hogs imported corn from Brazil.
“We are looking everywhere to minimize the impact of high priced corn,” owner John Prestage told Reuters.
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