MAY 21, 2008


OPSU research partnership generates valuable information

The ethanol industry in the Oklahoma Panhandle area continues to grow, and with facilities already producing and more planned within a 100-mile radius, an opportunity has surfaced for area cattle producers to feed by-products created from the ethanol process. For the alternative fuel, only starch is extracted from the corn, leaving a variety of highly valuable feed products including protein, fiber, vitamins and minerals, commonly known as distillers grains. Dr. Britt Hicks of the Oklahoma Panhandle Research and Extension Center, Dr. Chris Richards of the Oklahoma State University Animal Science Department, and Dr. Pete Camfield, Oklahoma Panhandle State University’s Dean of Agriculture, organized and carried out research using both wet and dry distillers grains to replace part of the steam flaked corn in cattle feeding rations. As the price of corn rises and more of the harvested grain is devoted to ethanol production, cattle feeders are searching for reasonable, cost-effective alternatives to grain.

The study explored the impact distillers grains have on animal performance and carcass characteristics. In May of 2007, 180 steers owned by Hitch Enterprises were shipped to the OPSU farm, weighed, vaccinated, and placed on feed. Different groups of cattle were fed five different rations, with the distillers grain replacing a percentage of steam flaked corn: 1. A control ration that contained steam flaked corn; 2. A ration using 10 percent dry distillers grains; 3. A ration using 10 percent wet distillers grains; 4. A ration using 20 percent wet distillers grains; and 5. A ration using 30 percent wet distillers grains.

Once each group met the expected finish requirements, they were shipped to Excel Beef in Dodge City where OSU personnel gathered additional data on the carcasses. The research findings tend to agree with results obtained in other studies. In brief, significant differences in performance among the groups were not observed, and data suggests that the optimal level of wet distillers grains replacing steam flaked corn is approximately 10-15 percent. Feeding increasing levels of the wet distillers grains result in a reduction in average daily gain and feed efficiency. For the 10 percent dry distillers grains ration, marbling scores seemed to improve which in turn increased the percentage of carcasses that graded Choice over cattle on the control ration. The results of this study suggest that distillers grains contain about 86 percent the energy content of steam flaked corn.

For complete data regarding this study or to visit about other research completed, contact Hicks at (580) 349-5440. OPSU is pleased to work in conjunction with OSU’s agricultural professionals to provide pertinent, timely research and information that benefits area ag producers.