By Agricultural Adaptation Council
Sept. 30, 2010 - Distillers grains could be a cost-effective feed alternative for Ontario beef farmers looking for new ways to increase the competitiveness of their industry.
Sept. 30, 2010 – Distillers grains could be a cost-effective feed alternative for Ontario beef farmers looking for new ways to increase the competitiveness of their industry. A research study has just been launched that will look at how incorporating this by-product of the ethanol industry into the diet of feedlot cattle will affect their growth and their ability to absorb nutrients.
“High feed prices are a major factor impacting the competitiveness of our beef sector, so we are searching for alternative feed options that can help improve our margins without impacting animal health or meat quality,” says Curtis Royal, a feedlot operator and President of the Ontario Cattlemen’s Association.
The growth of ethanol production has meant an increase in the availability of distillers grains. Most of the research into the use of distillers grains for feedlot cattle to date has focused on animals that are eating dry rolled, high moisture or steam-flaked corn, but many of Ontario’s feedlots feed dry, whole corn-based diets.
During the ethanol production process, starch is removed from corn, leaving behind a by-product that has increased concentrations of other nutrients such as fibre, protein, fat and minerals. This project, headed by Professor Kendall Swanson from the University of Guelph, will analyze how feedlot cattle digest distillers grains and absorb their nutrients, and determine the optimum level of distillers grains that can be incorporated into feedlot diets to produce the best results.
The Ontario Cattlemen’s Association received a $51,000 funding contribution towards this project from the Farm Innovation Program (FIP), which is aimed at boosting agricultural research, competitiveness and productivity in Ontario’s agricultural sectors.
“Ontario’s beef farmers are facing economic challenges, so it is important for us to be able to provide funding for research projects that help improve their sector’s competitiveness through innovation,” says Jim Rickard, Chair of the Agricultural Adaptation Council (AAC), which administers FIP on behalf of Agriculture, Agri-Food Canada and the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs.