Price Advantage Means DDGS Warrant a Second Look

US - As cereal and grain prices continue to rise, pig producers are being urged to reconsider dried distillers grains with solubles (DDGS) as an alternative feed material. Prices for these ethanol-generation by-products are falling and the economics stack up, providing diets are formulated carefully.
calendar icon 22 November 2007
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In the past, pig nutritionists and producers have been very cautious about the addition of DDGS into swine diets, mainly because of the high cost of the products, relative to corn prices, and the variable results achieved.

Mike Tokach, Kansas State University animal scientist and pig specialist with its K-State Research and Extension team says this is understandable as there has been some controversy in research results.

"Some studies have shown negative responses in growth performance, while other studies have shown similar performance to a corn-soybean meal diet," he explained.

With the continual expansion of ethanol production - as is currently happening in the US - prices for DDGS have fallen, making them an attractive option against the escalating costs of traditional diet ingredients such as corn and soybean meal.
DDGSs are proving a viable option for swine formulation and in many areas of the US producers are eager to embrace the cost benefits.

"A quick rule of thumb for a general evaluation is that if the DDGS price is the same as corn´s, it will create enough savings to justify its use in the diet," said Mr Tokach.

The break even for DDGS can move from 110 to 130 percent of the corn price, depending on the cost of other ingredients.

Key considerations
However producers need to consider the physical, and the other the financial implications of using these by-products, warns Mr Tokach. Carcase fat can become softer and carcase yield can declines as DDGS levels are increased in the diet. High DDGS inclusions could have ramifications at the packing plant.

Diets need to be carefully formulated, by a nutritionist, to ensure dietary requirements are satisfied at every growth stage, with minimal effects to meat quality, performance or efficiency factors, he advises.

It's matter of balancing costs against nutritional needs and performance targets. DDGS are a useful and viable ingredient, but they need to be managed within feeding regimes. They will become a mainstay feed ingredient - because they will become more readily available as the bio-fuel industry expands. However, feed specialists believe quality control will be vitally important if pig farmers are to get the best from these by-products, both nutritionally and economically.

Further Reading

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