February 8, 2008


US cattle group says producers must note distillers grain differences


Cattle producers need to be aware of the differences in distillers' grains as they incorporate it into their cattle rations, according to a North Dakota State University (NDSU) extension specialist.


Greg Lardy, NDSU extension beef cattle specialist, said there are several different types of byproducts from the production of ethanol from corn. The main byproducts are wet distillers' grains, dried distillers grains and each of these with the condensed distillers' solubles included.


With each, there are handling and shelf-life issues to contend with and challenges with sulphur levels, said Lardy, who spoke to a group of cattle producers gathered in Reno, Nevada for the annual National Cattlemen's Beef Association convention. Afterward he spoke with Dow Jones Newswires in an interview.


If the sulphur is too high, it can combine with sulphur in the water or elsewhere in the diet and cause a sulphur toxicity, which can kill the animal in extreme cases.


Sulphur toxicity is an additive effect, and the feeder needs to remain below certain thresholds in the total ration, he said.


Ethanol producers usually provide a guarantee that distillers grains contain certain minimum or maximum nutrients or components like sulphur, Lardy said. A cattle producer doesn't need to test every load because it will remain within the guaranteed specifications from the distiller.


When incorporating distillers grains, Lardy said it's best for it to be 30% or less of the total ration.


Ethanol producers can't regulate the distillers' grains much more than they do because it's a batch system of production, and there are biologic variables that can't be controlled completely, he said.


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