and cattle feed: Ethanol byproduct research to bring balance to corn
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[APRIL 21, 2006]
URBANA -- With ethanol production expanding in
the United States, it is estimated that as much as 30 percent of the
corn crop will go for that use, taking a share of the market now
earmarked for cattle feed. An ongoing University of Illinois
research project, however, is finding ways to make that development
a winner for farmers, ethanol producers and cattlemen.
"For every pound of alcohol produced out of a bushel of corn, a
pound of distiller's grain is also produced," explained Larry
Berger, a professor of nutrition in the U of I Department of
Animal Sciences who has been working on the problem for three
"We are trying to find ways to optimize the use of
distiller's grains for growing and finishing cattle."
Today, about 25 percent of the U.S. corn crop goes into
rations for growing and finishing cattle. Forty percent to 80
percent of the diet of those animals is corn-based.
"If ethanol production eventually takes 30 percent of the
U.S. crop, as now predicted, much of that increase will come at
the expense of the 25 percent now going to cattle feed," said
Berger. "That means producers might face higher costs."
But the solution may lie within the problem itself.
Distiller's grains, the byproducts of ethanol production, are
a good source of feed for cattle. But can it be fed in great
enough amounts to replace much of the corn now used?
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"Our research has shown that distiller's grains can be used for
as much as 60 percent of the diet in beef cattle," said Berger.
"We've achieved smaller levels with dairy cattle. It is clear,
however, that we can greatly expand the use of distiller's grains in
growing and finishing rations for beef cattle."
Two other consumers of corn -- swine and poultry -- are not as
promising for distiller's grain expansion, he noted.
"There are problems involving amino acids and fiber that limit
the use of distiller's grains with pigs and poultry to 10-15 percent
of the diet," he said.
Berger's research is funded by ADM, a major producer of ethanol.
"We're very pleased with the results of the research so far," he
explained. "It's exciting. We're ahead of the curve. If the ethanol
industry reaches the level predicted, we'll have the technology and
know-how in place and available to beef producers to take advantage
of distiller's grains."
of Illinois College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental
Sciences news release]