Feeding cattle can be a surprisingly complex task, the animals requiring specific diets for nutrition and weight gain. The new research found that as the seasons progress, cattle find it increasingly difficult to digest a type of Bermuda grass – Tifton 85. However, the scientists also found that by supplementing the grass with dried distillers grains – the remains of ground corn fermented during ethanol production – the seasonal digestion issues can be minimised.
“Due to the ramp-up in ethanol production over the past few decades, there has been an abundance of this by-product 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 by-product.”
It is now common for dried grains to be used as a relatively cheap source of feed. In some circumstances 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 results of the new study which was led by W. Brandon Smith as part of his PhD research, allow scientists to determine the most effective and efficient way to use distiller’s grains as a supplement. “These data can then be used in an economic assessment to provide a baseline of potential responses from the use of a supplement,” says Rouquette. “This work is of interest to us me because it sheds light on changes that occur chemically within the plant across the year that affect its digestibility.”
Funded by Texas A&M AgriLife Research at Overton, Beef Competitiveness Research Initiative grant, the study has been published in the journal Crop Science. read more…