In an effort to extract more value from the corn kernel, new technological advances in the ethanol-making process have resulted in coproduct feedstuffs that are compositionally different from those produced through earlier, more traditional methods. Coproducts can be vital components of beef cattle diets, and Iowa Beef Center director Dan Loy said it’s important for producers to understand what’s available and how best to use them.

“The most abundant of these feeds -- distillers grains with solubles -- can vary widely in oil concentration due to the process used,” Loy said. “Moisture and nutrients also can vary depending on the plant and the process used. On the horizon is the increased use of technologies that may also extract corn fiber from the products.”

While all of these factors may impact the feeding value of ethanol coproducts for livestock, including beef cattle, it is imperative to highlight that these feeds still can have significant economic and nutritional value. Loy, who also is a professor in animal science at Iowa State University, said corn coproducts in Iowa and the upper Midwest can and do play a key role in economical and efficient beef rations, as long as research continues to evaluate the most effective use of these products.

“That’s why we developed this series of six new fact sheets on changes in coproducts and the subsequent effects on nutritional and economic value for beef cattle,” Loy said. “Each fact sheet provides specific relevant updated information on these changes and suggestions on how producers can effectively incorporate these changes into low cost effective nutritional programs.”

All six of the publications in this series, “Ethanol Coproducts for Beef Cattle,” have been peer-reviewed and offer the latest information based on research and demonstration projects, and all are available for download at no cost through individual links here

Here are the publication numbers, titles, authors and topic summaries:

  • IBCR 200A “The Process and Products” by Erika Lundy and Dan Loy. This publication includes a review of the ethanol process and new nutrient composition tables based on recent analysis and research.
  • IBCR 200B “The Changing Distillers Grains for Feedlot Cattle” by Erika Lundy and Dan Loy. Included in this review of current and recent cattle feeding studies is a summary of comparisons between distillers grains that vary in oil content and the resultant change in feeding value.
  • IBCR 200C “Factors Affecting the Economics of Coproducts in Cattle Rations” by Dan Loy and Erika Lundy. Various approaches to determining economic value of corn coproducts are reviewed in this publication. 
  • IBCR 200D “Distillers Grains for Beef Cows” by Taylor Geppert and Patrick Gunn. This publication provides an overview of the use of distillers grains as a cost effective supplementation strategy for beef cow rations utilizing medium-low quality forages.
  • IBCR 200E “Handling and Storage Considerations” by Patrick Gunn, Taylor Geppert, and Dan Loy. Small- to medium-sized beef producers can effectively utilize wet corn coproducts through long term storage strategies outlined in this publication.

IBCR 200F “Avoiding Negative Effects of High Dietary Sulfur” by Mary Drewnoski, Dan Loy, and Stephanie Hansen. Through nutritional management techniques outlined in this publication, cattle feeders can feed higher levels of distillers grains that contain elevated sulfur concentrations.