The University of Nebraska hosted the Ethanol Co-Product Storage and Utilization in Grazing Systems Conference in early June. Sandy Johnson, KansasStateUniversity livestock specialist, provides these summaries of some of the presentations that apply to stocker operators. Johnson notes that last year’s meeting focused primarily on storage issues, and this year’s focus was more on utilization in forage-based systems.

Terry Klopfenstein, University of Nebraska, outlined research in which performance of steers fed a mixture of wet distillers’ grains plus solubles and straw or WDGS and cornstalks was improved when the mixture was stored for a period of time in a large bag compared to when the feedstuffs were mixed at the time of feeding. Average daily gain was lower and pounds of feed to pounds of gain (F:G) was greater for steers fed the fresh mixture compared to the stored mixture. This implies some benefit of the storage time with WDGS on fiber digestibility of low-quality forages.

University of Nebraska meat scientist Chris Calkins outlined the impact on meat characteristics from feeding distillers’ grains. Feeding WDGS in finishing diets, he says, increases the polyunsaturated fatty acids in the meat and susceptibility to oxidation during retail display.  Feeding vitamin E helps to minimize problems with oxidation, discoloration and off flavors when feeding WDGS. With minimal aging (seven days), little to no Vitamin E is needed, but with extended aging, up to 1,000 IU per head per day is needed. The type of packaging also influences the amount of Vitamin E needed.

Johnson provides these comments regarding storage of wet distillers’ grains. “It’s hard to mess up storage; about anything people have tried has worked,” he says. “If it takes two to three weeks to accumulate the desired amount of WDG to be mixed with low-quality forage to make a pile, that seems to work OK.” Discussions during the meeting, Johnson says, suggest most producers usually just mix in any discolored or spoiled feed with the rest. Life of the co-product is longest and losses are reduced when covered or in a silage bag and on a concrete surface.

Finally, Johnson notes that in past years the price of distillers’ grains has decreased in the summer months as cattle on feed numbers have declined. Last year the pattern changed and the decline did not occur until later in the year. To monitor price trends for ethanol co-products, he suggests visiting a Web site maintained by University of Nebraska economist Darrell Mark.

The University of Missouri offers a daily report on pricing and sources for a wide range of byproduct feed ingredients.