Hundreds of thousands of red Skittles were seen last week scattered across the Dodge County Highway in Wisconsin, USA.
At the time, no one knew the reason. Until a local police inquiry come, residents have learned the red candies were supposed to be food for cows in the area.
“The Skittles were confirmed to have fallen off the back of a truck,” Dodge County Sheriff Dale Schmidt said on Facebook last week.
“It is reported that the Skittles were intended to feed cattle, as they did not make the cut for packaging at the company. In the end, these Skittles are actually for the birds!”
Wisconsin police first came across the scene last Tuesday—when they noticed a rural highway about 60 miles west of Milkwaukee, was painted in a sea of red, thanks to a massive amount of strawberry-flavored Skittles.
Though they were missing the candy’s white “S” on the hard shells, policemen knew they were Skittles based off the smell.
“There’s no little ‘S’ on them, but you can definitely smell, it’s a distinct Skittles smell,” Sheriff Dale Schmidt told local CNN affiliate WISN.
With thorough police probe, officials found that they candies were intended to be used as feed—a practice that actually goes back decades but became more popular after corn prices surged in 2012 and farmers sought a cheaper, alternative way to feed their livestock.
According to CNN, the candy provides “cheap carbs” to the cattle.
“(It) is a very good way for producers to reduce feed cost, and to provide less expensive food for consumers,” said Ki Fanning, a livestock nutritionist with Great Plains Livestock Consulting, said the media.
In 2012, Professor John Waller, animal nutritionist of University of Tennessee, said adding candy to cow feed is pretty common, a practice that works because cows are ruminant animals.
“Ruminant animals, which include goats, sheep, cattle and giraffes, take their name from the first of four compartments in their stomach, the rumen. In it, food is broken down into solids and liquids by robust microbes, after which the partially digested solids, now called the cud, are regurgitated and re-chewed,” he explained.