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Sheep and DDGS

  • Wednesday, 01 March 2017 11:58

February was National Lamb Month! And we took this annual opportunity to highlight the benefits that DDGS continue to provide within the sheep industry.

 A reminder that DDGS or (dried distillers grains with solubles) are a high protein animal feed and one of the coproducts made during ethanol production. In Minnesota, every bushel of corn produces about 2.8 gallons of ethanol, 18 lbs of DDGS and 1.5 lbs of corn oil. In 2016, Minnesota produced 3.5 million tons of dried distiller’s grains.

The majority of the starch from corn is removed during the process of producing ethanol so the resulting DDGS coproduct are a high-energy feed source of concentrated protein and high fiber. According to Iowa State University’s Center for Agricultural and Rural Development, DDGS contain 10 percent to 15 percent more energy than corn grain.

The Purdue Extension stated that DDGS are a practical, cost-effective protein source as protein is the most expensive fraction of the sheep diet.

Because of this nutrient makeup, studies have demonstrated not only health benefits, but economic benefits as well when incorporating DDGS into Sheep diets.

The US Grains Council found that ewes fed a DDGS supplemented diet produced 16.5 percent more milk fat per day. Their lactation study evaluating the use of DDGS to replace 2/3 of the corn resulted in a 12 percent improvement in reared lamb growth for ewes nursing triplets. They also discovered that ewes fed DDGS had greater body condition scores at parturition and at weaning, ewes fed DDGS had greater body condition scores than those fed corn or haylage rations.

Department of Animal Sciences in North Dakota State University confirmed that DDGS can be included in lamb finishing rations at concentrations up to 60 percent while the Department of Youth Development and Agricultural Education at Purdue University said that DDGS can be included in feedlot lamb diets at levels up to 50 percent.

The Depart of Animal and Poultry Science at Ridgetown Campus demonstrated that DDGS are financially beneficial per pound of gain in feeder lambs. Trials showed a lower feed intake in lambs fed with 30 percent DDGS yet they continued to maintain the same average daily gain as the control group. But the cost per pound of gain was 60 cents for DDGS and 77 cents for the control group indicating feed cost per pound of gain dropped with added DDGS.

This was also shown to be accurate at the Ohio State University Department of Animal Sciences where they found that control group lambs gained an average of 112g/d while lambs supplemented with DDGS gained an average of 232g/d. Double! In addition to overall body weight growth they saw that DDGS reduced the percentage of lambs requiring treatment for internal parasites. The University established that “supplementing grazing lambs with DDGS at 2.5 percent of their body weight increased growth, reduced anthelmintic treatment rate, and reduced risk of becoming anemic as a result of internal parasites.”

Yet another study by the Department of Food and Animal Sciences at the Alabama A & M University stated that the composition of DDGS is an ideal supplement for ruminants consuming low-to moderate-quality forages and that when DDGS are fed at levels of 6 to 15 percent of a diet, their primary purpose is to serve as a protein source, and when fed at greater levels, DDGS become a source of energy. They concluded with, “dry distillers grains with solubles like corn-based ethanol byproducts are an excellent protein and energy source.”

This is the third round in our DDGS in Livestock series, you can also read about how DDGS benefit the pork industry, and chicken industry!