DGS Research Helps Livestock Industry

US - Thirty per cent of the 146 million bushels of Ohio-grown corn used by the state's growing ethanol industry ends up in a byproduct called distiller's grains (DGS). DGS is a great feed for cattle and sheep and is also cheaper than corn and hay.
calendar icon 26 April 2011
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In the past, nutritional requirements limited the use of DGS to 25 per cent per ration. This reduced potential savings, employment opportunities, and profitability for ethanol plants. Ohio State Agricultural Research and Development Centre research is changing that.

Animal scientists Steve Loerch and Francis Fluharty have developed a nutrition strategy that allows pregnant beef cows and sheep to be fed up to 80 per cent DGS, and growing heifers and feedlot steers up to 70 per cent DGS - more than doubling potential use of this feeding in Ohio.

Likewise researchers at OARDC have developed technologies for modifying DGS for non-ruminant food animals such as swine, further expanding the market and profitability of ethanol production. DGS has moved from being a "byproduct" to a highly valued "co-product" with a market value of $180 million in Ohio alone.

"As tight as profit margins are right now, we can't afford not to use distiller's grains to reduce our feeding costs and remain in business," said Stan Smith, owner of Smith Simmental Farm in Canal Winchester and an Ohio State Extension program assistant. "Ohio State's research is helping us do that."

Estimates indicated that increased use of the 1.2 million tons of distiller's grains generated by Ohio's ethanol industry can reduce feeding costs by 20 to 50 per cent compared to using corn and hay; decrease manure output by 50 per cent, contributing to environmental quality; and nearly eliminate the need to treat grazing lambs for internal parasites, greatly enhancing profitability of the sheep industry.

Additionally, this research can lead to Ohio cattle producers saving over $100 annually per cow, for a total of $20 million; and support continued ethanol and corn production in Ohio, creating new jobs and enhancing economic stability in multiple sectors of agriculture.

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