AS the U.S. ethanol industry continues to evolve, many corn-based ethanol plants that send dried distillers grains with solubles (DDGS) into the global market have installed corn oil extraction equipment, which removes a portion of the non-food-grade corn oil during the ethanol production process, thus 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 due to the use of more advanced processes, according to the U.S. Grains Council (USGC).
Recognizing this growing change in ethanol industry practices and in response to questions in the marketplace, 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 a meeting in Lethbridge, Alb.
USGC said research results, as expected, found that low-oil DDGS had a lower energy content than regular DDGS. However, low-oil DDGS had about the same energy content as barley in the barely-based cattle rations. Low-oil DDGS also had no effect on cattle carcass quality or 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 among 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.
USGC said roughly 40 million tons of DDGS are produced annually by corn-based ethanol plants, and 9-10 million tons go into the export channel, an area that has seen rapid growth over the last five years as buyers from Canada to Taiwan learn more about it.