How to Utilize Surplus Food in Cattle Diets 

Project Title

Potential for Inclusion of Surplus Food in Beef Cattle Diets


Dr. Stephanie Terry

Dr. Kim Stanford (University of Lethbridge), Dr. Kim Ominski (University of Manitoba), Dr. Tim McAllister, Dr. Robert Gruninger, Dr. Trevor Coates, Dr. Wade Abbott, (Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Lethbridge)

Status Project Code
In progress. Results expected in March, 2028 FDE.04.21C


Food loss and waste is becoming more of a concern in agriculture but also in the public. In Canada, approximately 35.5 million metric tonnes of food loss and waste is generated annually. Of this, it is estimated that 32% is avoidable and results in an economic loss of $49.5 billion to the Canadian economy. 

Ruminants have the potential to play a key role in the utilization of both food waste and by-products. Cattle and other ruminants have the ability to convert these waste products into high quality food for humans.  


  • To identify current and future opportunities to improve the utilization of food wastage and loss (surplus food) as alternative feed sources for beef cattle. 

What they will do 

This team of researchers want to develop better ways for beef producers to utilize surplus food . In the first year they will conduct a literature review and discuss with producers and Agriculture Canada staff around the current ways that food waste products are used in the beef industry and identify any knowledge gaps that limit their use. 

In the next study they will look at ensiling 5 different surplus food products in mini silos, ensiling different rations of grocery and bakery waste together for different durations of time. The goal here is not establish an ideal “recipe” for utilizing food waste but to develop some overarching ratios and best management practices for better ensiling food waste products.  The team will then test these different silages in rumen fluid, then the 3 most promising mixtures will be tested in an artificial rumen. They will then then test 3 silages in a metabolism trial.  

Finally, they will use data collected to model the impact of using surplus food on greenhouse gas, land use change, and beef production economics.


This study will help identify where more information is needed for producers to better utilize surplus food and help to develop some strategies to help better utilize these products on farm.