Hogs Pigging Out And An Ethanol Alternative

According to an article in the Wall Street Journal, the rush to produce ethanol has resulted in sharply higher prices for corn. Corn is used to feed cattle and pigs and as a result of the price increase, farmers are feeding their pigs trail mix, candy and Top Ramen noodles!

Besides trail mix, pigs and cattle are downing cookies, licorice, cheese curls, candy bars, french fries, frosted wheat cereal and peanut-butter cups. Some farmers mix chocolate powder with cereal and feed it to baby pigs. “It’s kind of like getting Cocoa Puffs,” says David Funderburke, a livestock nutritionist at Cape Fear Consulting in Warsaw, N.C., who helps Mr. Smith and other farmers formulate healthy diets for livestock.

California farmers are feeding farm animals grape-skins from vineyards and lemon-pulp from citrus groves. Cattle ranchers in spud-rich Idaho are buying truckloads of uncooked french fries, Tater Tots and hash browns.

In Pennsylvania, farmers are turning to candy bars and snack foods because of the many food manufacturers nearby. Hershey Co. sells farmers waste cocoa and the trimmings from wafers that go into its Kit Kat bars. At Nissin Foods, maker of Top Ramen and Cup Noodles, farmers drive to a Lancaster, Pa., factory and load up on scraps of the squiggly dried noodles, which pile up in bins beneath the assembly line. Hiroshi Kika, a senior manager at the company, says the farm business is “very minor” but helps the company’s effort to “do anything to recycle.”

Mr. Smith says he’s paying about $63 to feed a single pig for five or six months before it goes to market — up 13% from last year. His costs would be even higher if he didn’t augment his feed with trail mix, which he says helps him save on average about $8 a ton on feed. This year, Mr. Smith has bought enough trail mix to feed about 5,000 hogs, and that will save him about $40,000.

Its only a matter of time before corn prices become too expensive for human consumption in the US. Already its too expensive for people in Mexico and being a major ingredient in their diet, thats having an inflationary effect on their lifestyle.

Rather than using corn-based ethanol, I wish the government would look into using vegetable oil instead. There are several kits available for diesel cars that allow the owners to switch to “used” vegetable oil whenever its available. In Southern California, there are companies like Socal Greasers that will fit your diesel car with a converter kit for a reasonable price.

So next time you stop by a fast-food place for a meal you can ask the manager for some of their used cooking oil. They have to pay to dispose of it and are usually happy to give it to you for free. It burns much cleaner than gasoline and your exhaust has a nice french-fry smell too!

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