Animal feed

MANHATTAN, Kan. — Feed is often one of the most expensive inputs when trying to balance the beef cattle budget. To help reduce that expense, Midwestern producers will sometimes look to alternative feed products such as wet corn gluten, corn dried distillers’ grain with solubles (DDGS) or soy hulls.

Factors to consider when looking to feed by-products was the topic of discussion on a recent BCI Cattle Chat podcast, according to a Kansas State University news release.

In the spring, some ethanol plants changed production to produce industrial alcohol for hand-sanitizer, leading to a concern that typical feed alternatives for the fall would not be available or price competitive, but that situation has eased, according to Bob Weaber, Kansas State University beef cattle Extension specialist.

When selecting the co-product to feed, veterinarian Bob Larson recommends producers look at their feeding mechanisms.

“A lot of these by-product feeds don’t flow well through the augers and chutes because some can be really dusty while others are wet,” Larson said. “They can also be harder to handle because wet products will have a shorter storage life and dry products tend to blow away more easily.”

Weaber added there can also be differences in the quality of the alternative feed depending on where it is sourced.

“Some plants will separate the oil fraction off the distillers’ products, impacting the energy content of the feedstuff, while there can also be a variation in the dry matter content,” Weaber said. For that reason, he advises producers to obtain or conduct a nutrient analysis of the feedstuffs when possible.