Distillers grains are good supplemental protein source for beef cattle should the animals be fed poor-quality, low protein forages, according to results of feed trials conducted in Illinois, US.
Little research has been conducted to specifically evaluate DDGS in beef cattle rations, but extensive research with growing-finishing cattle and lactating dairy cows gives insight into when and where DDGS would fit for beef cattle.
These situations include feeding as protein source, especially for low-quality forages as a replacement for CGF or soymeal; a low starch-high fibre energy source as a replacement for CGF or soy hulls; a source of supplemental fat as a replacement for soy.
The research finds that DDGS could be fed as an excellent source of supplemental un-degraded or "bypass" protein for high producing dairy cows. Up to 20 percent of the ration dry matter can be fed in these situations.
When compared with corn gluten feed, it was found that DDGS enabled Simmental cows to gain more weight per day, while corn gluten feed fed cows produced more milk. Calf weights and rebreeding performance were similar.
In subsequent feeding trials, Illinois workers compared supplementing ground cornstalks with either DDGS or corn gluten feed to lactating beef cows. In the experiments, limit-fed and total mixed rations were offered, and both products resulted in similar milk production and calf weight gain. DDGS, like corn gluten feed, are low in starch and may be more effective as energy supplement with poor quality forages.
Conclusions from several trials state that average cows in good condition for the last one-third of gestation, 1.4-2.3 kg of DDGS or 3.6-3.8 kg of wet distillers grain per day will meet their protein and energy requirements when fed as a supplement to corn stalk. For early cows in good condition for early lactation, 2.7-3.6 kg of DDGS or 9-10.4 kg of wet distillers grain will be sufficient.
Rations should be fine-tuned for specific cow size, stage of production, condition score, weight gain requirements, environmental conditions, feed analyses and operational goals. The conclusion also states that vitamin and mineral ration concentrations need to be evaluated.