Report: Distillers Grains Enhance Cattle Diet

Joanna Schroeder

According to research conducted by a team from the Department of Animal Science at the University of Nebraska, cattle feed of treated corn stover mixed with distillers grains (DDGS) from ethanol plants can reduce feed costs for cattle feeders. The goal of the research is to continue to provide livestock feeders with options for optimizing feeding efficiency.

The current project included a pretreatment for corn stover, calcium hydroxide, designed to enhance digestibility. The calcium is needed by cattle in feedlot diets. When combined with DDGS, treated corn stover increases digestibility and creates a more efficient feed ration. The research shows that this feed mix offers the livestock industry another feed option.

Nebraska is one of the largest ethanol producing states in the country and a by-product of ethanol production is high-protein distillers grains. When combined with poor quality roughage, researchers say, the feed ration still provides excellent results. This is especially important in drought years, such as this year, as availability of distillers grains have provided a valuable option for livestock feeders.

The evolving University of Nebraska research suggests that the practice of using an alkaline pretreatment on corn residues may offset corn in feedlot diets. This practice is expected to receive close attention by livestock feeders who may wish to offset corn use in livestock diets with other feed ingredients that are less expensive but in some cases more efficient.

Agribusiness, corn, Distillers Grains, Ethanol