Distillers feed products enhance cattle diet
Extensive research indicates that a cattle feed ration of treated corn stover mixed with distillers feed from ethanol plants can reduce feed costs for cattle feeders. Research conducted by a team from the Department of Animal Science at the University of Nebraska is focusing on the use of corn stover in combination with high protein distillers feed from ethanol plants. The goal is to continue providing livestock feeders with options for optimizing feeding efficiency.
The current feed optimization project includes a pretreatment for corn stover that enhances digestibility. The process includes pretreatment of corn stover with calcium hydroxide. The calcium is needed by cattle in feedlot diets. Increased digestibility of the corn stover helps to create a more efficient feed ration when the stover is combined with distillers feed. As a result, livestock feeders have another option for efficiently using corn residue in a feed ration that incorporates readily available ingredients.
The availability of distillers feed products from Nebraska ethanol plants has consistently proven to be an advantage to cattle feeders. Distillers feeds are high in protein and when combined with poor quality roughage still produce excellent results in cattle feed rations. During drought conditions in 2008 and 2012 the availability of distillers feeds has provided a valuable option for livestock feeders. Poor quality roughage can be more readily used in a productive livestock feed ration when combined with distillers feed according to nutritionists.
The evolving research by the University of Nebraska suggests that the innovative practice of using the alkaline pretreatment on corn residues may offset corn in feedlot diets. This practice is expected to receive close attention by livestock feeders who may wish to offset corn use in livestock diets with other feed ingredients that are less expensive but in some cases more efficient.