(HUTCHINSON, Kan.) — It’s a hard life on a dairy farm. “My alarm goes at 2:00,” says Mary Jane Miller with Miller Dairy Farm just outside of Hutchinson. It’s the only life she’s known for the last thirty years. “I have always said cows remind me a lot of people and people remind me of cows.”
And on the Miller Dairy Farm that includes their diet. “Here are some cherries and random chocolate pieces,” says Orville Miller as he unloads the farm’s latest truckload of chocolate. “We feed 600 to 800 pounds a day.”
The chocolate, all scraps from a chocolate factory, is mixed and then put right into the feed the cows eat every day. “A friend of ours worked at the factory and asked if we could use chocolate,” says Orville.
The cows have a strict limit of six pounds per day. That’s 5,000 pounds of chocolate for the farm every week. “It takes a lot of energy to make 100 pounds of milk,” says farm nutritionist Verton Miller.
Is all of that chocolate good for cows?
“Oh yea...chocolate is high in energy. It's good for the cows. They need two things and that’s energy and protein,” says Verton.
With soaring corn prices it helps keep the farm profitable. “We're probably saving 50 or 60 cents a day per cow. That's a lot of savings,” says Orville.
And it's not only chocolate. How about a little Mexican food?
“It's corn meal, soft tacos, cheese, refried beans…you name it. It's a combination of some high fat, high energy,” says Orville as he watches a whole truck load dumped on the ground. The taco shells also come from a nearby factory.
“It's a way of recycling. We can we feed it and it saves us dollars. For us it's the bottom dollar. We feed them as well as we can as cheap as we can,” says Orville.
There's actually a lot or work to make sure these cows get just the right amount. “There is a science to feeding cows,” says Orville. And in the end all the chocolate helps provide the milk and other dairy products you depend on.
Orville says there's not enough to do what you’re thinking.
“I love it. People think chocolate milk but we don't feed enough to get chocolate milk,” Orville says laughing.