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Low-Cost Feed

Agriculture.com Staff 07/06/2010 @ 5:13pm

Because a large percentage of a producer's input costs goes toward feed, it's no surprise that feed is at the top of the list when it comes to trying to cut costs.

Researchers at the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) think they may have a viable solution for the livestock industry. Recent studies show that wet distillers' grains with solubles (WDGS) may offer an inexpensive alternative to traditional feed ingredients when fed to livestock. WDGS is a common ethanol by-product that could replace more costly traditional feed ingredients. WDGS typically costs about 10% less than corn when used as livestock feed.

ARS scientists at the U.S. Meat Animal Research Center in Clay Center, Nebraska, studied the effects of feeding WDGS to cattle in four areas: feedlot performance, energy utilization efficiency, post-harvest meat characteristics, and cattle manure emissions.

The first study revealed that steers fed diets of 20% to 40% WDGS performance in growth rate, feed intake, and feed efficiency in the finishing phase were equal to or better than that of cattle that didn't receive the WDGS.

Although the second study observed no significant difference in heat production between cattle fed 0%, 20%, 40%, or 60% WDGS, they did see lower energy utilization efficiency. The third study looked at meat quality and found feeding a diet of 20% or 40% WDGS produced carcasses that were the same or better for yield and quality traits than carcasses of cattle that did not eat the WDGS.

The fourth study, manure emissions, confirmed that as the concentration of WDGS increased in the diet, greater concentrations of nitrogen, phosphorus, and sulfur appeared in manure, mostly due to excess crude protein.

Because a large percentage of a producer's input costs goes toward feed, it's no surprise that feed is at the top of the list when it comes to trying to cut costs.

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