Why do cows eat Skittles? That’s the question behind a mind-blowing new TikTok video.
The fascinating explanation comes from a dairy farmer named Dan, who posts as @iowadairyfarmer on the app. His clip, which has over 3 million views, is a response to another user, who seemed surprised by the revelation that, in fact, many dairy cows do eat Skittles.
The story first went viral in 2017, when CNN reported that police had found thousands of Skittles scattered across a road in Wisconsin. The shocking part, of course, is that the Skittles were meant for cows, not people.
That led to a series of sensational news headlines and, years later, TikToks like the one Dan responds to in his video. But as the farmer explains, it’s not as strange as it sounds.
“That’s old news,” Dan says at the start of his clip. “Farmers have been doing stuff like this for a long time.”
Dan goes on to say that while he doesn’t feed his own cows Skittles, he believes farmers have a responsibility to be honest about what they’re feeding their animals. So, he dives into a full explanation.
According to Dan, a cow’s diet is made up of a totally mixed ration (TMR). Farmers make TMR by mixing several types of grains and nutrients together in a machine so that every bite is the same for every cow.
“Cows love consistency,” Dan says.
Skittles, meanwhile, can be added to that mixture as an energy source. Cows need some amount of sugar in their diets, meaning the Skittles could replace another, more costly ingredient.
Dan goes on to say that he’d gladly feed his cows Skittles — if it made sense. Generally, he says, the farmers who feed Skittles, Snickers or other candies to their cows do so because they’re near a plant where the snack is manufactured. That way they can acquire defective candy at a low cost.
“Just because it’s cheap, does that mean it’s low quality? No,” Dan says. “Maybe the Skittles didn’t have the ‘S’ put on them properly. … Maybe the colors were off just a little bit.”
Not only are candies like this cheap, Dan says, but they’re also sustainable. Farmers with access to defective Skittles are able to “upcycle” a resource that would otherwise be thrown away.
“I was really shocked to see how many people were bothered by the fact that a farmer would dare feed Skittles [to their cows],” he concludes.
TikTokers poured into the comments with praise for Dan’s transparency. Many were also fascinated by the inside look at the life of a dairy farmer.
That general interest reflects a larger trend on TikTok, in which users with uncommon jobs have been sharing their lives online. In recent weeks, TikTokers have also shown what it’s like to work on a container ship, what it’s like to stock shelves overnight at Walmart and what it’s like to work full-time as a luxury hotel pianist.
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