KANSAS CITY, Mo. (CBS St. Louis/AP) — Cows are developing quite a sweet tooth thanks to an unprecedented drought that has rocked cattle ranchers in the Midwest.

Dairy cattle are being fed gummy worms, cookies, marshmallows and other assorted treats due to the lack of corn, Reuters reports.

With the drought causing corn costs to skyrocket, cattle operators needed to turn to alternative ways to feed their cows.

“Everybody is looking for alternatives,” Ki Fanning, a nutritionist with Great Plains Livestock Consulting, told Reuters. “It’s kind of funny the first time you see it but it works well. The big advantage to that is you can turn something you normally throw away into something that can be consumed. The amazing thing about a ruminant, a cow, you can take those type of ingredients and turn them into food.”

The weekly U.S. Drought Monitor update released last Thursday showed that recent rainfall benefited parts of the Corn Belt, coming too late to help already damaged corn crops but still likely to plump up maturing soybeans in the fields.

The report shows about one-fifth of the contiguous U.S. remains in the two worst categories of drought — extreme and exceptional. The swath still dealing with “exceptional drop” dropped by less than half of a percentage point as of Tuesday, to 5.96 percent.

While virtually all of the key farming states remain gripped by some form of drought, the amount of Kansas still in the worst drought classification fell by 9 percentage points to 51.04 percent. About one-quarter of Missouri remains in extreme or exceptional drought, down more than 8 percentage points from a week earlier.

And in Iowa — the nation’s biggest corn producer — nothing really has changed, with 66 percent of that state still experiencing the two most serious forms of drought.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture as of Monday still listed half of the nation’s corn crop in poor or very poor shape, down just 2 percentage points from a week earlier. Soybeans were faring a bit better, with 36 percent of that crop described as being in such condition, the same as the previous week.

About one-quarter of the nation’s corn harvest is complete, nearly three times the average pace of the previous five years, the USDA said. Just 10 percent of the soybean crops have been reaped, more than double the typical harvest’s speed.

(TM and © Copyright 2012 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)


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