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Seafood in the Continental Manner - A Gourmet Treat for Cows?

August 7, 1989

WASHINGTON (AP) _ America’s cows may be in for a treat - European-style seafood dinners that scientists say could prove the secret to a substantial increase in milk production.

″Fish meal is a super cocktail of amino acids for cows,″ boasts Kelsey Short, marketing manager for a Louisiana-based ocean-fishing company gearing up for sales to the dairy industry.

Cows need hefty doses of protein to produce the amino acid building blocks required to make milk protein.

Those who favor fish meal say cows can make better use of the protein it contains than the proteins in the solvent soybean meal supplement often on the menu at the nation’s dairy farms.

The complex, four-part digestive tract of the cow finds it easier to transform fish meal into amino acids.

European cows have been getting the fish meal supplement for some time and results of a recent study of 20 Holstein cows at the Agriculture Department’s U.S. Dairy Forage Center in Madison, Wis., were favorable.

Cows produced an additional 3 pounds, or 1.4 quarts, of milk daily when fed with high-quality alfalfa silage mixed with one pound per day of fish meal protein supplement, according to Glen A. Broderick, a dairy scientist with USDA’s Agricultural Research Service.

The cows themselves seemed contented enough with the new diet, the department said. It said fish meal is acceptable to the animals when mixed into their regular feed ration.

And dairy farmers may be contented, too, when they see the price tag.

Fish meal does cost 11 cents more per day than solvent soybean meal. But tests showed the cows were producing an additional 36 cents worth of milk a day a current prices, according to Broderick.

He said the 25-cent difference would amount to $12 a day for the average Wisconsin farm with 48 cows. Cows fed on fish meal in the study also gave milk with 4 percent more protein, meaning it would yield slightly more cheese, the main use for dairy production in the upper Midwest.

As for consumers, marketing manager Short scoffs at the notion that they would notice any difference.

″The two most common myths about feeding cows fish meal are that the cows won’t eat it and that the milk will taste fishy,″ he said. ″Both of these myths have been thoroughly researched and found to be untrue.″

Meanwhile, Broderick plans future studies to compare fish meal with other high-protein feeds, such as expeller, or heated, soybean meal and roasted soybeans.


WASHINGTON (AP) - Farmers are disgusted at what they see as slack regulation of commodity futures trading markets by the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, says National Farmers Union President Leland Swenson.

″Too often decisions are made that smack of collusion at worst and a good- old-boy network at best,″ Swenson said in a letter to members of Congress following Wednesday’s indictment of 46 traders in Chicago in the aftermath of an FBI sting operation.

Fraud, racketeering and filing false tax returns were among the charges against the traders.

The National Farmers Union is an 18-state organization that claims more than 30,000 farm families among its members.

″Farmers are disgusted and frustrated with a futures system that they have little control over and that virtually dictates the price they receive for commodities produced,″ Swenson said.

Swenson also wrote to other farm and commodity groups to suggest they join forces in seeking major changes in commodity futures regulation.

″If they exchanges are ever to gain the confidence of producers, then producers must have a role in the oversight of their operations,″ he said. ″... These latest revelations exacerbate the mistrust that producers have of the futures markets being a credible price-setting mechanism.″

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