The U.S. ethanol industry continues to evolve, and many corn-based ethanol plants that send dried distillers grains with solubles (DDGS) into the global market have installed corn oil extraction equipment. The extraction equipment removes a portion of the non-food-grade corn oil during the ethanol production process, making it available for other uses. However, this also changes the feeding characteristics and potential value of DDGS, as regular DDGS may contain 10-12% oil (fat), while the low-oil variety contains 6-9% or less with more advanced processes.
Recognizing this growing change in ethanol industry practices and in response to questions in the marketplace, the U.S. Grains Council (USGC) commissioned a study in partnership with Agriculture & Agri-Food Canada to examine the use of low-oil DDGS in cattle diets. The study, which focused on low-oil DDGS as a substitute for barley in Canadian cattle rations, was recently released at meeting in Lethbridge, Alb.
As expected, USGC said research results found that low-oil DDGS has a lower energy content than regular DDGS. However, low-oil DDGS has about the same energy content as barley compared to barely-based cattle rations. Low-oil DDGS also had no effect on cattle carcass quality — nor on overall production performance at common inclusion rates.
At the feeding levels examined in the study, 20% low-oil corn DDGS as a substitute for barley grain in finishing feedlot diets proved to be optimal, USGC reported.
The council said the research was important in resolving uncertainty about the changing composition of DDGS and to help maintain transparency between U.S. DDGS exporters and importers. It also noted that communication between sellers, marketers, buyers and end users is important. Sellers and marketers must work together to understand the nutrient makeup of the U.S. DDGS and inform buyers and nutritionists who need to know the type of product they are receiving in order to properly formulate rations and maximize animal performance.
A copy of the study can be obtained from USGC.