News last update:6 Aug 2012

Research shows promise for DDGS

Beef cows need less supplemental protein than dairy cows, but in many production systems they are fed poor-quality, low-protein forages. In these situations distillers grains fit well as a supplemental protein source.

Little research has been conducted to specifically evaluate distillers grains in beef-cow rations. However, extensive research with growing-finishing cattle as well as lactating dairy cows gives some insight into when and where distillers grains may fit for beef cows.

These situations include feeding as a protein source, particularly for low-quality forages (replace CGF or soybean meal), as a low starch-high fibre energy source (replace CGF or soy hulls), and as a source of supplemental fat (soybean replacement).

Distillers grains can be fed as an excellent source of supplemental un-degraded or "bypass" protein for high producing dairy cows. Up to 20% of the ration dry matter can be fed in these situations. When corn gluten feed or distillers dried grain were compared by Illinois researchers as supplements to ground alfalfa hay for lactating Simmental cows, distillers dried grain fed cows gained more weight per day, but corn gluten feed fed cows produced more milk. Calf weights and rebreeding performance were similar.

In subsequent feeding trials, Illinois workers compared supplementing ground cornstalks with either dried distillers grains with solubles or corn gluten feed in lactating beef cows. Both 114 Simmental and 88 Angus cows nursing calves were used in the two experiments where limit- fed, total mixed rations were offered.

There was no significant difference due to type of co-product used, as both products resulted in similar milk production and calf weight gain. Distillers grains, like corn gluten feed, are low in starch and may be more effective as an energy supplement with poor quality forages.

From several trials it could be concluded that:
For average cows in good condition for the last 1/3 of gestation, 1.4 - 2.3 kg of distillers dried grain or 3.6 - 6.8 kg of wet distillers grain per day will meet their protein and energy requirements when fed as a supplement to corn stalks.

For average cows in good condition for early lactation, 2.7 - 3.6 kg of distillers dried grain or 9 - 10.4 kg of wet distillers grain will meet their protein and energy requirements when fed as a supplement for corn stalks.

These rations should be fine-tuned for the specific cow size, stage of production, condition score and weight gain requirements, environmental conditions, feed analyses and operational goals. Additionally, vitamin and mineral ration concentrations need to be evaluated.

Source: Ethanol co-products for cattle (Iowa State Ag Extension)

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