News last update:6 Aug 2012

Wet sorghum distiller's grains for cattle

Wet sorghum distiller's grains can be fed in a steam-flaked corn ration without affecting efficiencies, according to new research.

The two four-month cattle finishing experiments with yearling heifers were conducted to gain more information on the feeding value of wet sorghum distiller's grains plus solubles. "We wanted to determine what the trade-off is when you substitute wet distiller's grains for some of the steam-flaked corn and cottonseed meal," according to Dr. Mike Brown, a Texas Agricultural Experiment Station ruminant nutritionist. "Also, there hadn't been any studies previously to assess the value of the fat within the distiller's grains."

The 400 cattle in the trial were given a steam-flaked corn diet with no wet distiller's grains, or a diet with 15% of the ration dry matter as wet sorghum distiller's grains. The distiller's grains replaced a combination of 35% cottonseed meal and 65% steam-flaked corn. Yellow grease was added to the steam-flaked corn diets as a fat source because the distiller's grains have a higher fat content than the original grain The energy-dense fat helps tie the ration together, making it less dusty.

Within the study, heifers receiving the wet distiller's grains and solubles ate about 5% more and gained about 5% more, so the feed efficiency was the same in comparison to those that did not receive it, Brown said. "We found you will have to have 1.5% added fat with the distiller's grains to achieve the feed efficiency similar to a steam-flaked corn diet with 3% fat added," he said.
The net energy value for gain of the distiller's grain based on animal performance was 80% of that used for steam-flaking corn, Brown said. Those numbers determine what the exchange is, or what the nutritive values are for competing ingredients.
In addition, the distiller's grains rations were wetter and more dense than those without distiller's grains. The data suggests a feedlot would need to deliver 10% more feed if feed trucks are filled to the same volume or 23% more if feed trucks are filled to the same total weight.

Follow up
The researchers also are looking at potential effects on ammonia emissions and other environmental and animal health concerns. "We certainly didn't see any adverse consequences at the feeding rate of distiller's that we used," Brown said, but added the environmental data is still being analyzed.

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