Ethanol byproducts in feedlots
Paying the feed bill has cleaned out bank accounts faster than Jesse James in recent years, as high corn prices left cattlemen everywhere looking for the cheapest, most efficient alternatives.
Answering that search, Galen Erickson shared research results and insight on distillers’ grains at the Feeding Quality Forums in Omaha, Neb., and Garden City, Kan., in August.
As of late summer, the ethanol byproducts were selling at near corn prices. Many cattlemen responded by cutting back or removing it, but Erickson, feedlot Extension specialist at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln, said that could be a mistake.
Ethanol plants remove starch from grain, he explained, thus concentrating the remaining protein, oils and minerals in byproducts that have nearly three times the amount of those as corn.
“No matter how expensive it gets, it’s still an inexpensive protein source,” Erickson said. He suggested lowering the amount of distillers’ grains in a diet to no less than 15% to lower input costs while maintaining a relatively cheap protein supplement.
After reviewing research on feeding performance, he explained there are three common forms to consider.
All ethanol plants produce wet distillers’ grains and solubles (WDGS), frequently mixed together. Some plants partially or completely dry the WDGS, producing modified distillers’ grain (MDGS) or dried distillers’ grains (DDGS). These three products start out the same way, but feeding performance differs.
Research has studied performance of all three in comparison to dry-rolled corn in feedlot rations. F
–Adapted from a CAB release
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Outtagrass Cattle Co. cartoon by Jan Swan Wood for the Oct. 23, 2021, edition of Tri-State Livestock News