August 19, 2010


US distillers grains to balance poor hay quality


Byproduct feeds from ethanol plants would benefit US beef herd owners to supplement for bad hay being baled for winter feed this year.


"Distillers grains can pick up the slack when the hay quality falls short. There is a tremendous amount of high quality product available," said Chris Zumbrunnen, MU Extension regional livestock specialist.


There will also be plenty of poor quality hay that was harvested late and rained on during haymaking. Dried distillers grain offers around 30% protein, lots of fat and lots of energy. There are several products available that require different handling methods.


The dried byproduct, which has only 10% moisture, handles and stores easily. However, precautions must be taken in storage. "It can draw moisture and become caked. If you put it in a bin, you might have a hard time getting it out," said Zumbrunnen.


"The wet product, with 65% moisture, is less expensive, however. It's tough to store and do anything with. You can't stack it, as it will spread out unless contained," Zumbrunnen added.


A new modified wet distillers grain offered by some ethanol plants allows more flexibility and ease in feeding. The modified product is dried down to 50% moisture. It retains its shape and won't blow away like dry product.


"The modified wet product can be fed on the ground or on top of unrolled baled hay. It stays in place. Those old cows love it," Zumbrunnen said.


Researchers at the University of Nebraska developed a way to store and feed the wet byproduct. They mixed it with poor quality hay to give it body. The best storage is in a bunker-type silo where it can be packed down.


"You can use poor quality CRP-type hay. You're just use the hay as filler to give it body," Zumbrunnen said.


A mix of 40% hay and 60% wet distillers product makes a feed useful for beef-cow herds. "At that ratio, you'll hardly be able to see the wet byproduct," Zumbrunnen said.


The best time for herd owners to buy distillers product is in late summer, before demand picks up from the feed yards. "You can save US$30 a tonne by buying in the off season," Zumbrunnen said.

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