Yes, dairy cows are fed corn. At least they were back in the day when, as a
teenager, I was working on a family-run dairy farm. They were sometimes fed
dried corn ground into feed, and at other times they were fed silage made
from whole young corn plants, chopped up and blown into a silo. Stalks,
leaves and young ears all together. Of course they were also fed hay (dried
grass), and also silage made from fresh grass. Cows love silage, as it is
somewhat fermented into ethanol and they get a bit of a buzz from it. They
receive limited amounts of it, needless to say. Farmers frown on 1600 pound
animals going on drunken sprees.
BTW, just in case some city slickers out there don't know this factoid,
field corn is distinct from sweet corn, which humans consume directly.
Field corn has to be subjected to an alkaline processing to be digestible by
humans. And it is the starch from field corn that is sometimes fermented
into ethanol for fuel (or corn whiskey).
I think it is the case that beef cattle (castrated males) get a diet that
is considerably richer in corn, however. At least those that are fattened
Dairy cows generally get converted to steak and hamburger when their milking
days are over. This occurs at a considerably greater age than that at which
beef cattle are slaughtered. Her meat is still quite valuable, as she has
had a "good" diet her entire life.
----Original Message Follows----
From: Michael H Goldhaber <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To: Science for the People Discussion List
<[log in to unmask]>
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: Why Milk Costs More Than Gas
Date: Tue, 17 Jul 2007 17:50:46 -0700
Does anyone know: are dairy cows fed corn? My impression was that beef cows
are put in feed lots where they are fattened on corn, but was unaware this
held for dairy cows. Of course, assuming the latter are fed grass and hay,
the more acres devoted to ethanol corn, the lessf or hay, etc.
On Jul 17, 2007, at 4:21 PM, Phil Gasper wrote:
>Howl by Nicholas von Hoffman
>Why Milk Costs More Than Gas
>[posted online on July 16, 2007]
>The other day milk was selling in a New England supermarket at $4.79 a
>gallon. Down the street, regular gasoline was going for about $3.04 a
>One of the factors driving up the cost of milk is the ethanol stampede.
>Ethanol, as we all have been taught to believe by now, will bring us
>"energy independence" and lessen global warming with no change in the way
>we live--unless we happen to be a small child in a household with a
>Children from low-income families are either going to have to accustom
>themselves to drinking gasoline or learn to sing "No Milk Today."
>American ethanol is made from corn, and the more corn we use to feed our
>cars, the more expensive is the corn left over for our livestock. Ergo,
>"No Milk Today."