Ethanol industry has beef industry on edge

CANADA - Producers also want to know how much dried distillers’ grains they can use and whether they have any effect on marbling
calendar icon 7 February 2007
clock icon 2 minute read

The growth of the ethanol industry in Ontario has set the cattle feeding industry on edge and cattle feeders are asking a lot of questions about the effect of ethanol on their costs, says Brent Cavell, field marketing representative for London-based Furst McNess, which sells by-products to the livestock industry: Cattlemen want to know how much dried distillers grains (DDGs) they can use, what demand from ethanol plants will do to the price of corn and what it will do to the basis, the difference between the Chicago price and the price they pay for corn from elevators here in Ontario, Cavell says.

There is also a question about research suggesting that marbling levels in American-fed cattle are going down. Recently, Certified Angus Beef (CAB), which claims to be the most successful beef brand in the world, complained that it was finding it harder to get cattle that would fit its stringent marbling criteria.

A number of factors were associated with lower marbling scores, according to research conducted at Ohio State University and compiled by CAB. Among them were feeding in larger feedlot operations (a key number seems to be 20,000 head), the growing incidence of respiratory diseases, the feeding of “lower quality” southern cattle in Texas, and also the feeding of steam-flaked grains and dried distillers grains. CAB complains that feeding large amounts of ethanol byproducts seems to put fat on the outside of the carcass rather than throughout the muscle.

Cavell says that he has seen no scientific information to that effect. Feeding DDGs either enhances carcass quality or leaves it the same, he told Better Farming.

Source: Better Farming

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