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Posted on  

March 26, 2003

Ethanol plants offer feed opportunity for producers

By Jean Caspers-Simmet, Agri News staff writer

OSAGE, Iowa -- With ethanol plants coming on line, cattle feeders should consider ethanol co-products as a potential feed source, says Daniel Loy, Iowa State University Extension beef specialist.

Loy participated in a recent beef feedlot meeting in the Osage Farmers Elevator.

Statistics show the U.S. ethanol industry is projected to go from 2 billion gallons of production capacity in 2000 to 4.2 billion gallons by 2005, Loy said. Much of the growth will come in Iowa and surrounding states.

"When you think about all the potential feed from these plants, it's kind of exciting,'' Loy said.

Each bushel of corn going into an ethanol plant produces 2.65 gallons of ethanol and 17 air-dry pounds of co-product, Loy said. To produce 1 million gallons of ethanol in a year requires 1,034 bushels of corn daily, and the process generates 8.8 tons of co-product.

The average daily co-product consumption is 3.65 air-dry pounds per feedlot animal. It would take 5,000 head of cattle to consume co-products from 1 million gallons of ethanol.

Doing the math, each 45 million gallon ethanol plant built in Iowa can feed 225,000 cattle per day.

"That's the capacity of Sioux County, Iowa's largest cattle feeding county,'' Loy said. "Obviously, all of the co-products will not be fed. Some will be dried and sold somewhere else, but a lot of these plants are interested in finding local buyers who will use the product wet.''

"Cattle feeders would use additional corn and hay to supplement the co-product feed, also adding value to Iowa agriculture products," Loy said.

Iowa's corn wet milling process has provided beef, dairy, hog and poultry producers with corn gluten feed and corn gluten meal for many years. Products coming from the dry milling process, wich is used in new plants, are somewhat different.

Wet co-products from dry mill plants include wet distillers grains, condensed distillers solubles and wet distillers grains with solubles.

Wet distillers grain and distillers grains with solubles contain the remaining nutrients after corn starch is fermented to alcohol, Loy explained. Therefore the original nutrients in the corn are concentrated approximately three times. Wet distillers grains are higher in both protein and energy than corn gluten feed because the gluten and oil remain in distillers grains.

When distillers grains are dried they lose some energy value compared to wet products, Loy said. Dried distillers grains are a good bypass protein source for cattle.

Distillers solubles can be added to distillers grains, or condensed and used as a liquid cattle feed supplement. Condensed distillers solubles appear to be slightly higher in energy and similar in protein to wet distillers grains when adjusted for moisture.

Loy has developed tables showing nutrient values for wet and dry corn co-products based on information from the National Research Council and other industry publications. Research is under way to get better numbers based on data from local plants.

The Iowa Beef Center has two publications on feeding corn co-products that are available at Iowa Extension offices. Ask for publications IBC-18 and IBC-19.


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