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Study Evaluates DDGS as Range Cow Supplement

09 September 2008
Ohio State University

US - Ohio State University nutritionists have studied the use of dried distillers grains (with solubles) as supplements for low quality forages for gestating cows.

The high cost of cattle feeds have many cow calf producers out "window shopping" for the best buys in cow supplements for this winter, writes Dr. Glenn Selk, Extension Cattle Specialist, Oklahoma State University.

Feedlot and backgrounders have experience with the biofuel by-products such as dried distillers grains. Many cow calf producers are still uncertain about their use as supplements for cows on dormant winter grass.

Therefore, nutritionists from the Ohio State University (OSU) decided to compare (among other treatments) the feeding of a supplement made with cottonseed meal and wheat midds with a supplement made of dried distillers grains with solubles (DDGS).

The cottonseed/midds supplement was formulated to have the same protein content as the DDGS. Both supplements contained 31.5% crude protein. The DDGS had more fat and therefore had a higher energy value of 81% TDN compared to 69% TDN for the cottonseed/midds supplement.

Both feeds were fed at the calculated rate of 3.41 pounds per head per day during gestation. They were delivered to the cattle 3 times per week at 8 pounds per feeding starting in early December and continued to calving. After calving all cows received the same supplement but 4 times per week.

All the cows had free choice access to the same prairie hay (5.1% crude protein). Weight change and body condition change during the winter before calving was negligible and very similar between the two supplement groups. The cottonseed/midds group lost 14 pounds from December to pre-calving. whereas the DDGS cows lost 7 pounds.

Body condition score loss was .2 and .07 BCS, respectively. Apparently dried distiller grains with solubles can be fed as a cow supplement similar to conventional supplements that have comparable concentrations of protein. The best price per pound of protein and TDN should determine which supplement to buy. Source: Winterholler and co-workers. 2008 Oklahoma Cattleman's Association Young Cattleman's Conference.

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