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Distillers grains can add pounds to grazing calves

Photo by Gayle SmithLyle Lomas of Kansas State University Southeast Agricultural Research Center in Parsons, KS.

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Distillers grain byproduct can benefit grazing stocker cattle by adding additional pounds of gain while they are grazing, according to Lyle Lomas of Kansas State University Southeast Agricultural Research Center in Parsons, KS. Lomas spoke about utilizing byproducts on pasture during the Nebraska Grazing Conference in Kearney.

With corn prices climbing, grazing forage and supplementing cattle with dry distillers grain may be a viable option this year. “Distillers grain can also be an ideal supplement when forage supplies are limited or forage is deficient in one or more nutrients,” Lomas explained. “It can also be used in the delivery of feed additives for animal health and parasite control.”

“They get to where they really love it, and will come running when they see the feed truck,” said Terry Klopfenstein of the University of Nebraska. Klopfenstein has also conducted research on the byproduct, and gave a presentation about it during the conference. “It can be a great way to check cattle. The ones that don’t come for the supplement probably need to be treated.”

Producers considering supplementing with distillers should determine if the value of supplementing cattle will exceed the cost of supplementation. “They will need to determine the amount of supplement it will take for that pound of gain, and what it will cost,” Lomas explained.

One bushel of corn will produce 2.7 gallons of ethanol, 18 pounds of distillers grain, and 18 pounds of carbon. “Distillers grain can be a nice fit for grazing cattle because it is high in protein, fat and phosphorus making it an ideal supplement,” Lomas said. In fact, distillers grain has three times the nutrient value of corn. It has 27-30 percent crude protein, 10.3 percent crude fat and 0.83 percent phosphorus. “It complements the nutrient composition of mature forages to meet the requirements of grazing cattle. It is also highly palatable,” he said.

The high phosphorus content of distillers grain can be a management problem in confined feeding situations because distillers grain contains three to four times more phosphorus than what an animal requires.

“Because distillers grains generally have high concentrations of energy, protein and phosphorus, their nutrient composition complements that of mature forages, which are typically deficient in these nutrients,” Lomas explained. The product is also high in sulfur, which could be a concern if pastures contain too much sulfur.

“In addition to a feed supplement, distillers grain can also make a great fertilizer,” Lomas continued. Dry distillers grain contains 4-5 percent nitrogen. “Less than 10 percent of the nitrogen in distillers grain is retained by grazing cattle. The rest is excreted back into the soil in the form of feces or urine. In a 200-day grazing season with a stocking rate of one steer per acre, distillers grain fed at 0.75 to 1 percent body weight per head daily can provide 50-60 pounds of nitrogen per acre for grass and reduce the quantity of commercial fertilizer needed.”

In Kansas, Lomas said there are currently 11 dry mill ethanol plants yielding approximately 1.5 million tons of dried distillers grains annually. The product can be fed to cattle either wet, which is 35 percent dry matter; or dry, which is 88 percent dry matter. In July 2011, Lomas said wet distillers grain in his area was selling at $69 a ton, which is equivalent to $0.099 per pound of dry matter. Dry distillers grain sold for $205 per ton is equivalent to $0.116 per pound of dry matter. Lomas said 2.5 pounds of wet distillers grain is equivalent to one pound of dry distillers grain on a dry matter basis.

Distillers grain byproduct can benefit grazing stocker cattle by adding additional pounds of gain while they are grazing, according to Lyle Lomas of Kansas State University Southeast Agricultural Research Center in Parsons, KS. Lomas spoke about utilizing byproducts on pasture during the Nebraska Grazing Conference in Kearney.

With corn prices climbing, grazing forage and supplementing cattle with dry distillers grain may be a viable option this year. “Distillers grain can also be an ideal supplement when forage supplies are limited or forage is deficient in one or more nutrients,” Lomas explained. “It can also be used in the delivery of feed additives for animal health and parasite control.”

“They get to where they really love it, and will come running when they see the feed truck,” said Terry Klopfenstein of the University of Nebraska. Klopfenstein has also conducted research on the byproduct, and gave a presentation about it during the conference. “It can be a great way to check cattle. The ones that don’t come for the supplement probably need to be treated.”

Producers considering supplementing with distillers should determine if the value of supplementing cattle will exceed the cost of supplementation. “They will need to determine the amount of supplement it will take for that pound of gain, and what it will cost,” Lomas explained.

One bushel of corn will produce 2.7 gallons of ethanol, 18 pounds of distillers grain, and 18 pounds of carbon. “Distillers grain can be a nice fit for grazing cattle because it is high in protein, fat and phosphorus making it an ideal supplement,” Lomas said. In fact, distillers grain has three times the nutrient value of corn. It has 27-30 percent crude protein, 10.3 percent crude fat and 0.83 percent phosphorus. “It complements the nutrient composition of mature forages to meet the requirements of grazing cattle. It is also highly palatable,” he said.

The high phosphorus content of distillers grain can be a management problem in confined feeding situations because distillers grain contains three to four times more phosphorus than what an animal requires.

“Because distillers grains generally have high concentrations of energy, protein and phosphorus, their nutrient composition complements that of mature forages, which are typically deficient in these nutrients,” Lomas explained. The product is also high in sulfur, which could be a concern if pastures contain too much sulfur.

“In addition to a feed supplement, distillers grain can also make a great fertilizer,” Lomas continued. Dry distillers grain contains 4-5 percent nitrogen. “Less than 10 percent of the nitrogen in distillers grain is retained by grazing cattle. The rest is excreted back into the soil in the form of feces or urine. In a 200-day grazing season with a stocking rate of one steer per acre, distillers grain fed at 0.75 to 1 percent body weight per head daily can provide 50-60 pounds of nitrogen per acre for grass and reduce the quantity of commercial fertilizer needed.”

In Kansas, Lomas said there are currently 11 dry mill ethanol plants yielding approximately 1.5 million tons of dried distillers grains annually. The product can be fed to cattle either wet, which is 35 percent dry matter; or dry, which is 88 percent dry matter. In July 2011, Lomas said wet distillers grain in his area was selling at $69 a ton, which is equivalent to $0.099 per pound of dry matter. Dry distillers grain sold for $205 per ton is equivalent to $0.116 per pound of dry matter. Lomas said 2.5 pounds of wet distillers grain is equivalent to one pound of dry distillers grain on a dry matter basis.




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