Ethanol Blog
Cheryl Anderson DTN Staff Reporter

Monday 02/11/13

Distillers-Based Feedlot Diets Require Less Roughage

Cattle producers feeding a distillers grains-based ration can reduce the amount of roughage because of distiller's high fiber content.

Kristin Hales, a research animal scientist at the USDA's U.S. Meat Animal Research Center in Clay Center, Neb., told DTN that while the beef industry typically adds between 8% and 9% roughage in feedlot diets, producers can reduce roughage without sacrificing performance, as long as the diets includes at least 25% wet distillers grains with solubles on a dry matter basis.

Hales completed a trial that gave 128 steers a diet of 25% WDGS and dry-rolled corn and coarsely ground alfalfa hay replacing corn at 2%, 6%, 10% and 14% of dietary dry matter. The optimal feed efficiency and daily gain was when alfalfa was offered between 3% and 7% of the ration. Conversely, body weight and feed efficiency actually decreased when alfalfa was offered at 10% to 14%.

Lower the roughage also did not affect average daily gain, hot carcass weight, marbling score or grading, Hales said. (Hot carcass weight, as defined by the University of Kentucky, is "the hot or unchilled weight of the animal in pounds after slaughter and after the hide, head, intestinal tract, and internal organs have been removed.")

Using less roughage in rations could be a blessing for producers during times like this year when alfalfa is expensive and in short supply because of drought. Replacing a portion of alfalfa with WDGS also reduces the costs associated with handling and processing alfalfa.

Cheryl Anderson can be reached at

Posted at 11:11AM CST 02/11/13 by Cheryl Anderson
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