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Posted on  

January 30, 2003

Distillers Grains Make Good Hog Feed

Compiled by staff

The use of distillers grains for feeding to cattle is a proven practice. But feeding this by-product or co-product of ethanol manufacturing to hogs will work well too.

Iowa State University extension livestock specialists recently held several meetings in Iowa, to explain how cattle and hog producers can profitably use distillers dried grains with solubles (DDGS) in their feeding programs. These were sponsored by the Iowa Beef Center, Iowa Pork Industry Center, Iowa State University Extension and the Iowa Pork Producers Association.

One of the speakers at the workshops was Jerry Shurson, nutritionist in the department of animal science at the University of Minnesota. "Our research studies over the past five years and the critical evaluation of the use of DDGS for feeding to swine are showing real advantages compared to how we've always felt about this in the past," says Shurson.

"One of the biggest advantages," says Shurson, "is that DDGS is high in available phosphorus. We can use less phosphorus supplement in swine diets and reduce the amount of phosphorus in manure and save some feed costs. We've also been able to show that the energy value and digestible amino acid value per pig is much higher than we've given this product in the past."

New ethanol plants producing better product

The new generation ethanol production plants are the major factor in the quality of DDGS now available, says Shurson. New ethanol manufacturing facilities are going into production, or are in production, in northwest and western Iowa, and in various locations in Minnesota, South Dakota and in other places in the Upper Midwest and the Western Corn Belt.

The new plants are what Shurson calls "new generation" plants and they are producing a much higher quality of corn co-product than what has typically been produced in the past.

Summarizing the nutrient content and digestibility of "new generation" DDGS, Shurson says research shows the energy value appears equal to that of corn and is higher than "old generation" DDGS. Amino acid content and digestibility are also higher. Available phosphorus is significantly greater.

Additional advantages are also being researched on the use of DDGS in swine diets. One is that it results in "improved gut health" of pigs. Minnesota researchers have completed four studies that show feeding 10% DDGS can reduce the severity and incidence of ileitis, which is common in many hog finishing buildings across the country.

This stuff also has benefits when fed to sows

Research also shows the benefits of DDGS when fed to sows. A recent sow study in which Minnesota researchers fed 50% distillers grains in a gestation diet and 20% in the lactation diet showed that they were able to pick up about a one pig per litter in the size of the litter. That's an advantage by feeding the distillers diet in the second reproduction cycle but not in the first cycle, says Shurson. This may be a good reason why this particular diet fits very nicely into swine feed.

Also not to be overlooked are the manure management benefits of feeding DDGS. These include a decrease in phosphorus excretion in manure and an increase in nitrogen excretion.

It's important for hog producers to be aware of the variability in nutrient content of DDGS from plant to plant. "That's okay if the ethanol production facilities have variation," says Shurson. "But you have to know what plant you are getting your DDGS from and what the nutrient content is in the product from that facility. You can then use the DDGS most effectively when you put together the least cost formulations for your feeding operation."

More detailed information on the DDGS studies can be found at www.ddgs.umn.edu.

Distillers grains affect manure management

Iowa State University animal scientist Wendy Powers says, "It's possible to manage the phosphorus from co-product feeds even if these feeds are higher in phosphorus content than what's in the primary feeds. It's very feasible to do this."

Citing the advantages of feeding the co-product that comes from ethanol manufacturing - as protein and energy sources - and also the availability and economic factors, Powers also emphasizes the need for livestock producers not to overlook the importance of feeding co-products as an alternative to "landfilling." You don't want a valuable product like DDGS running into streams and causing pollution.

Powers tells farmers to consider whole farm nutrient planning. This means looking at nutrient flow through the entire farming operation rather than on individual pieces. The goal is to keep nutrients in balance. This type of planning will allow you to better visualize where opportunities exist in your operation.

Where to get help and more information

"The new EPA manure management regulations for livestock operations clearly indicate the need for site specific management plans which allow producers to tailor the plans to their operations," says Powers.

If livestock producers want to add co-products into the operation as part of what's going to come out the back end of the animal, then that has to be managed. Help is available. Producers can contact a nutritionist or the traditional team of ag engineers and agronomists for assistance in setting up their manure management plans.

Dave Stender, ISU extension swine field specialist at Cherokee, Iowa, has guidelines for livestock producers to use to figure out how to price DDGS in swine diets. He can be contacted at 712-225-6196.



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