by: Stephen B. Blezinger
Ph.D., PAS

Part 3


Over the last couple of issues we have been discussing feeding by-products to cattle to meet their nutritional needs. As the feed, food, fuel and other industries move forward and grow we are finding increasing uses for base grains (corn, grain sorghum, cottonseed, soybeans, etc.) in applications that are considered more valuable than livestock feeds. Agricultural products are used in countless products not just associated with the production of feed, food or textiles. As such we must grow in the understanding of how to use the by-products of this multitude of grain processing to efficiently feed and supplement livestock.

Another consideration is that the world's population continues to grow. It is estimated that by 2050 the world's population will increase by 50 percent to approximately nine billion people. Additionally, economies of many third world countries are also continuing to grow. The result here is two-fold, one is that these countries will now have increased means to purchase more food. Second, they will demand higher quality foods and more meat proteins. The net result is that although the population will grow by 50 percent, our food demand is estimated to grow by 100 percent. Let me emphasize that: current estimates are that we will have to produce 100 percent more food (plant and animal sources) 40 years from now.

So what does this mean for the U. S. farmer and the U.S. cattleman? First, our level of production will have to increase dramatically through expanded production research and implementation. The problematic part of this is that our industry will have to accomplish this despite increased regulation by our government and the protests of an uninformed consuming public. Both governments and consumers that do not understand what is necessary to feed a population of nine billion (which includes the population of the U. S.making up only 4.44 percent of the current world population). Secondly, we will have to learn to better utilize the by-products from the processing of our primary grains. If we are going to meet the food demands of the coming years we will have to take a big picture approach to all phases of production. Livestock producers will have to learn to produce more with the by-products available and less with primary grains. To do this we have to be as familiar as possible with what we have to work with and to grow in this understanding.

Considerations and Costs Associated with Bulk Commodities

One thing the producer needs to recognize is that most by-products are available only in bulk, truck-load quantities. This, therefore, limits the use of these ingredients to operations capable of handling and storing these commodities. Here are some issues that have to be considered when looking into the use of by-products.

1) Freight trucking costs are always an issue. Since many by-products may be sourced somewhat locally this may not be a huge cost although it may be necessary for the producer to line up his own trucking.

2) Shrink in virtually every situation shrink or product loss is a consideration. This can range from two to three percent on up to 10 or more percent depending on the nature of the by-product.

3) Feed analysis cost Due to the variability of many by-products it is a good idea to regularly test loads coming in to insure they are consistent with values being used in the feeding program. If not, adjustments to the formulation may be necessary.

4) Extra or unique storage facilities obviously storage is a necessity. In some cases, as with wet ingredients, a structure such as a pit (concrete) may be needed to hold the by-product.

5) Lost performance due to the possibility of unreliable delivery or availability of the by-product. As noted below, a 100 percent consistent supply of any by-product is unlikely. Some variation in performance may be noted unless a contingency is in place to account for this variation.

6) Extra costs associated with unacceptable loads (below nutrient specs, inclusion of mold, dirt, rocks, etc.)

7) Added labor costs for loading or mixing of feeds, maintenance of by-product. Some by-products simply require more work to minimize shrink, keep fresh, etc.

8) Extra time and administrative costs necessary to obtain and purchase by-products.

More By-Products

In the last articles we discussed several of the most common by-products available for cattle feeding and supplementation. This final article will outline more of these feedstuffs and provide a brief discussion of each. One thing to remember is that not all by-products are readily available in all areas of the country.

Corn Hominy - Hominy is the byproduct of the processing of corn meal for human consumption. It is a mixture of corn bran, corn germ, and a portion of the starch. Hominy is higher in energy, protein, fat, and fiber than corn grain. Since fat content of hominy may range between 5 to 12 percent, care should be taken to ensure total ration fat is not excessive when using hominy. The high starch and relatively low protein content make hominy a poor feed ingredient for cattle consuming high-roughage rations. The best fit for hominy is as a corn replacement in feedlot growing and finishing rations. Feeding levels of 10 to 15 percent of ration dry matter are common. Protein supplementation will be needed to balance the high energy content of hominy. Hominy is available in loose or meal form. Availability of hominy can vary

Soybean Hulls Soy hulls are the outer seed coat of the soybean seed that have been removed by aspiration after beans are cracked for oil extraction. Hulls are normally toasted and ground before being added to low-protein soybean meal or being shipped for animal use. Soy hulls contain a moderate amount of protein and are high in digestible fiber. They are very palatable and are an excellent feed ingredient for both forage- and grain-based rations. Soy hulls are most effective when limited to about 30 percent of the total ration and are probably not ideal as a roughage source in feedlot finishing rations because of their dust and low effective fiber value (scratch-factor). Feeding high levels of soy hulls can lead to bloat and loose stools especially in feedlot situations. Rations containing soy hulls will usually require additional protein supplementation. Soy Hulls are available in both pelleted and loose forms. Availability can be sporadic from time to time.

Brewer's Grains - The spent grain and hops from the brewing industry is marketed to the cattle industry as wet or dried brewer's grains. Barley is the most common starting grain although some breweries may use corn, rice, and wheat. In addition to the spent grains, the residual yeast cells are dried and fed as value-added brewer's yeast culture. The high moisture content of wet brewer's grains (70 to 80 percent water) typically restricts usage to a limited distance from the brewery and to larger operations that can successfully manage storage and handling. The storage time of wet brewer's grains is limited unless packed in large plastic bags such as that used for storing silage. Brewer's grains are reasonably palatable and a good source of by-pass protein for growing cattle. Rations should be balanced based on brewers grains' high phosphorus and sulfur content and deficiency of calcium and potassium. Dried brewer's grains can be found in pelleted or loose forms. Wet brewer's will be in a loose form. Availability can be very sporadic and contingent on brewing schedules.

Wheat Middlings - Wheat midds are a byproduct of flour milling. The composition varies depending on the amounts of bran, germ, and starch added to the midd. The protein and energy in midds are readily utilized by ruminants, with rumen digestion of protein and fiber being quite high. In growing cattle diets, midds have an energy value similar to corn. When fed in moderate amounts (e.g., five to six lb/head/day), they are acceptable for brood cow's diets because of their protein content and protein degradability and their high phosphorus and potassium content. Feeding higher levels of midds may cause digestive upsets and impair fiber digestion due to starch content. Diets containing significant amounts of midds will require protein supplementation and special consideration for calcium fortification. Wheat midds can be purchased on pelleted or loose forms and availability can vary. Pricing can be quite variable.

Dried Bakery Product - is comprised of a variety of commodities, such as hard and soft wheat products, pasta, potato chip waste, breakfast cereals, cookie meal, waste candy and so on. In many cases these products may also contain wrapping from the various points of production so this can be a problem. Research indicates dried bakery product can have an energy value similar to corn or in some cases even higher due to the high fat content. Issues to consider include high fat and high salt content in many cases. Dried bakery product should be limited to less than 30 percent of the diet. No differences in daily gain or feed efficiency were observed when DBP replaced dry-rolled corn in finishing steer diets at 15 percent or 30 percent of DM. However, DMI decreased 6.5 percent with the 30 percent inclusion rate. The form these materials are delivered in is highly variable. It may also come in bulk, large tote boxes or even drums. Availability can also vary and is contingent on what is available from local points of production.

Rice bran and rice hulls are the outer layers removed during the milling of rice. Rice mill feed is a combination of rice bran and rice hulls. Rice hulls are bulky and loose and even when ground are very indigestible. Rice hulls are usually used as a carrier in some mineral and feed premixes. Rice bran is the outer layer of the rice kernel removed during the polishing process in rice milling and contains broken bits of rice, bran, and rice germ as well as starch removed during the abrasive polishing process. Rice bran quality can easily be determined by measuring fatty acid content. Rice bran contains a lipase which is activated upon exposure of the germ and bran to air and unless deactivated by heat and moisture will quickly turn the fat present rancid, resulting in an unpalatable feed. Modern mills stabilize the bran after milling by putting it through an expander. The free fatty acid level of stabilized rice bran should not exceed four percent. Some mills also remove the fat (defatted rice bran) which, while increasing the shelf life and palatability, decreases the energy value of rice bran.

Citrus pulp - is a combination of rind, seeds, and fleshy portions of the fruit remaining after juicing. It should have a sweet citrus smell and be free of mold. Pelleting and drying have expanded the range of availability of this fibrous by-product and may be available coast to coast during the height of the juicing season. Wet citrus pulp is normally available within 100 miles of juicing facilities and can have a shelf life of up to three weeks.

Sugar beet pulp - is the residue left after removal of the sugar from the sugarbeet and is free of crowns, leaves, and sand as processing allows. If molasses is added back, it will enhance the energy content. Dried shreds and pellets have similar feeding characteristics although particle size is reduced in pelleting. Beet pulp fiber is readily fermented in the rumen and the fiber is highly digestible making it a good energy source. Beet pulp should have a slightly earthy smell, but not musty or moldy. Wet beet pulp is usually available during a short period near beet processing plants. Demand for dried product will limit availability of the wet form. Wet beet pulp has a shelf life of up to 10 days.

Corn Steep Liquor (Steep water) - is a co-product of the corn wet milling industry. Distillers solubles is a co-product of ethanol production. Although the primary focus here has been on dry by-products, the availability of these liquid ingredients make them worth mentioning. Both are significant sources of nutrients and are commonly used in the manufacture of liquid feeds and supplements. Research conducted by Iowa State University indicates that no significant differences in gain, feed efficiency, or intake were observed by feeding corn steep liquor at 10 percent of the dietary dry matter. The authors observed inclusion of the steep liquor reduced feed cost of gain from $37.05/cwt for controls to $33.75/cwt for steers fed steep liquor. In a 1997 study, condensed distillers solubles increased gain and improved fed efficiency of yearling heifers fed distillers solubles in place of corn and supplement. Net energy value based on performance of the condensed distillers solubles was 1.34 Mcal/lb dry matter or 1.9 times that of corn. Both liquids are palatable and can be fed as part of a total mixed ration. Both steep liquor and Distiller's solubles are delivered in truck-load quantities and require bulk liquid storage and handling systems.


These are only a portion of the by-products available to the cattleman. In some cases very unique by-products are available depending on the accessibility to different food and other processors. These have to be evaluated on a case by case basis and careful analysis must be performed to assure no problem situations may exist prior to feeding. Cattle are unique animals that can consume a wide variety of materials that other food species cannot which is why their use in production of food proteins should always remain viable.

Dr. Stephen B. Blezinger is a nutrition and management consultant with an office in Sulphur Springs, TX. He can be reached by phone at (903) 352-3475 or email at [email protected]


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