What's New in Using Distillers Grains?

US - With an ever-increasing amount of distillers grain being produced in Iowa, livestock will have to use more of them. With that in mind, many members of the Iowa cattle industry gathered in Ames last week to hear from experts on maximum feed rations, storage and handling techniques, feed values and co-products of the future.
calendar icon 20 March 2007
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The "Managing Distillers Grains In Cattle Feeding" workshop was sponsored by the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association, Iowa Cattlemen's Association and Iowa State University on March 14.

The audience was told by Dr. Dan Loy, beef nutritionist at ISU, to prepare for changing the way distillers grain is used in rations and diets. As the oil is removed from the corn kernel through new process technology, higher protein levels will likely result in the DDGs. Loy says 75% of Iowa cattle feeders are currently using corn coproducts from ethanol plants to benefit from the protein, energy and phosphorus content.

Cattle numbers in Iowa increasing

"Cattle numbers in Iowa are increasing and that's due to distillers grain," Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey told the crowd. "Our state ag department wants to work with the industry by helping with research to keep this trend going."

Cattle feeders shared their real-world experiences and innovative approaches to testing high incorporation rates of DDGs in cattle rations. Bill Couser, who has a 4,000 head per year feedlot near Nevada in central Iowa, is feeding up to 60% distillers grain in rations with excellent results. "We can compete with Texas and southern cattle feeders by using corn coproducts," says Couser.

Larry Daniels of Vision Feeders Feedlot, indicated that using high coproduct levels would eliminate the need for additional phosphorus and save $150 per ton in feed costs. Combining the syrup coproduct and wet distillers grain could enable cattle producers to use less than 18 bushels of corn to finish "fly weight" cattle. By incorporating ground hay, silage or bean straw into rations, very little corn would be needed to complete the ration.

When is best time to buy DDGs?

With higher levels of distillers grain going into rations, Dr. Allen Trenkle, retired ISU Professor of Animal Science, has been studying the affect on carcass quality. "With up to 60% distillers grain in rations, there was no change in carcass quality," says Trenkle. "In fact, 70% of the animals were graded 'choice'."

The best time to buy distillers grain is when it is priced at 90% of the value of corn, according to Bruce Mershon, distillers grain manager for Lansing Trade Group, who also operates a cow-calf herd. "Even if you are paying $5 more per ton for distillers grain, it's still cheaper to use than a pre-mix feed," he says.

Source: Wallace's Farmer
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