Corn distillers grains can reduce feed costs

Corn distillers grains can reduce feed costs Corn distillers grains are an excellent feed for cattle. Blending distillers grains with other agricultural byproducts is an innovative way of stretching forage supplies and cutting feed costs, according to South Dakota State University scientists.

A new publication, SDSU Extension Extra 4029, "Ensiling Wet Distillers Grains with Other Feeds," written by Alvaro Garcia and Kenneth Kalscheur of the SDSU Dairy Science Department, describes how to use distillers grains in combination with other feeds.

The publication is available from local county Extension offices, or online at

Distillers grains, which are co-products of ethanol production, can be purchased either dry or wet (40-70 percent moisture). They are high in energy, protein, fat and phosphorus; therefore it is recommended that distillers grains be used to supplement feeds that are low in these nutrients.

"Dried distillers grain can, for example, be pelleted with dry beet pulp and/or soy hulls in a 50:50 ratio. This blend results in a good pellet hardness," Garcia said.

Wet distillers grains (WDG) are excellent for blending with other feeds. For example, research at SDSU showed that fermenting a blend of WDG with corn silage increased the bunk life of the feed, due to increased aerobic stability.

"WDG also blends well with beet pulp and soy hulls. Both are low in protein, fat, and phosphorus, and both offer the additional advantage of increasing acetate production in the rumen, thus reducing the risk of acidosis," Garcia said.

"Another area that holds promise is the use of crop residues such as corn stalks or other high fiber roughages blended with WDG. Crop residues have complementary characteristics to WDG as they are low in energy, protein, fat, phosphorus and sulphur, and the digestibility of the fiber in these feeds is also low."

Distillers grains and other agricultural co-products present challenges in diet formulation because of excessive or deficient nutrients compared with nutrient requirements of cattle. Combination of these feeds is a logical way to use them in ruminant diets, Garcia said.

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