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DDGS Diets For Beef Cattle

  • Friday, 10 August 2018 12:00

We’ve previously highlighted the benefits of incorporating DDGS in dairy, turkey, sheep, pork and chicken diets. Today, we take a look at DDGS diets for beef cattle.

As explained in our DDGS 101 blog, DDGS (dried distillers grains with solubles) are a co-product of ethanol production used as a high-protein animal feed. It is an efficient alternative to corn and soybean-based animal feed.

Each bushel of Minnesota corn used for ethanol produces 2.8 gallons of ethanol and 18 lbs of DDGS in addition to other co-products such as corn oil. Minnesota ethanol plants produced 3.7 million tons of DDGS in 2017.

According to ABF Economics, DDGS produced in Minnesota in 2017 was sufficient to meet the annual feed requirements of more than 2.5 million beef and dairy cattle or the entire inventory of cattle and calves in Minnesota.

The US Grains Council (USGC) says DDGS are an excellent energy and protein source for beef cattle in all phases of production and can be effectively used as an energy source with DDGS comprising up to 40 percent in cattle rations, resulting in excellent growth performance and meat quality.

USGC said carcasses of steers fed distillers grains had greater fat thickness and higher yield grades than steers fed with dry-rolled corn, soybean meal, and alfalfa hay.

Furthermore, it said, DDGS showed positive effects on meat quality such as improved tenderness and palatability in comparison to beef from cattle fed with barley control diets.

Moreover, the Department of Animal Science at the University of Nebraska says DDGS contain 125 percent the energy of corn and feeding DDGS six days per week results in the lowest cost of grain per head, allowing a smaller amount of feed needed to meet the protein and energy requirements of test heifers. It even found that artificial insemination (AI) conception rate and AI pregnancy rates were improved.

The Iowa Beef Center at the Iowa State University Extension and Outreach have confirmed these findings, stating cows fed DDGS at 0.6 percent to 1.2 percent of body weight had an artificial insemination conception rate average increase of 14 percent.

In addition, it noted, these heifers experienced greater milk production, pregnancy and herd retention rates while supplementing as little as 1.5lb of DDGS per day maintained or improved pregnancy rates in yearling heifers.