Hot weather depletes prized Wisconsin cow chip supply

The scorching weather that hit much of North America this summer is bad for farmers, crops and one group many people may not think much about - cow-chip throwers.

Cow-chip throwers are volunteers who compete in what is essentially a contest to see who can throw a piece of flattened cow dung the farthest.

And while it sounds like a scenario cooked up by satirical news website The Onion, these contests are held at local fairs and festivals have a huge following in U.S. states with an agricultural bent.

Thousands of men and women angle each year for a shot at breaking the current records: 75.6 m for men, 48 m for women.

Winners from individual festivals duke it out at the World Championship Cow Chip Throw in Beaver, Okla.

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This year, however, the heat and the lack of rain have compromised cow chip supplies right before the Wisconsin State Cow Chip Throw and Festival in Prairie du Sac, Wis.

As The Associated Press notes, the dearth of green grass caused cows to remain near the barns for food, while many took refuge in the cool shade.

Because the flattened manure pieces need sunlight to dry and harden, and grass-fed cows make for denser, more substantial chips, the circumstances have colluded to create a substandard output.

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Instead, organizers have been left with bits that don't exactly make the cut.

"A lot of people are afraid to pick it up," throw organizer Terry Slotty told AP. "They look at it, and it looks like what it is but once they touch it they notice that it's very dry."

"If it looks like it has air bubbles on the top, it's bad chip… It won't be worth it because it will be light and airy. But if it's thick and solid and grassy, it's a good chip," festival organizer Marietta Reuter added.

Thankfully, there are reserve supplies. Each year, organizers hold on to high quality chips that don't get used in competition.

That means the 40,000 folks who are expected to attend the Wisconsin festival will still be able to enjoy the show.

(CP photo)