One of the challenges for cattle producers around the world is getting the most out of late-season forage.
In many cases forages become harder to digest later in the growing season, making them less beneficial for animals. Now a group of Texas researchers say supplementing these forages with dried distillers grain from the ethanol industry can help cattle get the most out of them.
“Due to the ramp-up in ethanol production over the past few decades, there has been an abundance of this byproduct in the beef industry,” explains Monte Rouquette, a professor with Texas A&M AgriLife Research. “Originally viewed as a waste product of the industry, research began looking into other uses of the byproduct.”
He adds that using it as food for livestock is an efficient use of this product. The value-added aspect has moved the grains from wasted to wanted.
The dried grains are now commonly used as a relatively cheap source of feed. In some instances, it can replace primary feed ingredients like corn or soybeans. Some supplements provide additional energy, some more protein, and others minerals. The distillers grain is used for both protein and energy.
The researchers looked at how it affected digestibility of Tifton 85, a common type of Bermuda grass grown throughout the southeastern U.S.
The results of this study point to a potential two-season grazing strategy, based on animal size, weight, and age. For example, lightweight animals could graze in the early summer without the grain supplement.
In the later part of the summer, the matured animals could graze with the distillers grain supplement.