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Tips offered for feeding distillers grains to cattle on forage

Research shows forage fed cattle often perform better when corn products like distillers grains are made available, especially during the winter months.

To assist cattle producers in assessing the opportunity of feeding corn co-products produced by ethanol plants and other milling processes, the Nebraska Corn Board and University of Nebraska have published “Feeding Corn Milling Co-Products to Forage Fed Cattle.” The manual, the latest in a series published by the two, includes current research, feeding recommendations and more.

“Beef calves from weaning until going into a feedlot, beef cows and developing heifers are often on pasture or fed a forage-based diet,” said Kelly Brunkhorst, director of research for the Nebraska Corn Board. “Research shows feed ingredients like distillers grains or gluten feed provide a boost in protein and energy that benefit cattle in these feeding situations.”

Authors for the publication include Aaron Stalker, Rick Rasby, Galen Erickson, Crystal Buckner and Terry Klopfenstein of the University of Nebraska. Much of the research cited in the manual was conducted in Nebraska by the authors and funded in part by the Nebraska corn checkoff.

Stalker said the manual explains corn processing methods and the resulting products like distillers grains and gluten feed and then covers what is known about feeding those products to cattle on forage-based diets. “The ethanol industry in Nebraska produces an excellent supply of distillers grains, and research demonstrates distinct benefits of offering it to cattle on forage,” he said. “In many cases, distillers grains or other corn co-products provide an opportunity for cattle producers to improve both livestock performance and economics.”

In addition to an analysis of the processing feeding methods, “Feeding Corn Milling Co-Products to Forage Fed Cattle” includes a short reference guide on storing corn co-products.

“This publication is designed to help cattle producers become better informed about different opportunities to feed distillers grains and other corn co-products,” Stalker said. “While livestock nutritionists and other cattle feeding experts will find the manual helpful, it was written specifically with producers in mind. They will be able to take the information in the report and directly apply it on the ranch.”

“Feeding Corn Milling Co-Products to Forage Fed Cattle” is a 24-page printed and electronic publication. It is available online or by requesting a printed copy from the Nebraska Corn Board.

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