DDGS-based feed supplement sales increase

By Ryan C. Christiansen | July 08, 2008
Web exclusive posted August 4, 2008 at 10:17 a.m. CST

A probiotic feed supplement manufacturer that uses distillers dried grains with solubles as one of its main ingredients continues to add distributors and dealers to its already long list of customers. According to Bob Thornberg, president of SweetPro Premium Feed Supplements, because distillers grains are becoming more available as ethanol production in the United States continues to rise, it's becoming easier for the company to market its product to cattle producers. Thornberg said when he first started marketing SweetPro products, he had to spend more time just explaining what distillers grains were. "But we don't have to do that anymore," he said. "They are very aware of it now."

In the past, only feedlots used distillers grains, but today more cattle producers are seeing value in using DDGS earlier in an animal's life, Thornberg said. "The beef-cow calf man is sure becoming well-aware of it, and that's our main market,' he said. "They're grazing and haying their animals and so they haven't had the exposure to distillers grains in the same way, but [distillers grains are] so prevalent in the news."

SweetPro packages its feed supplement solution in blocks that can be rolled off the back of a pickup truck for range-fed cattle. The company promotes using its feed supplements with nursing heifers and post-weaning calves for overall calf growth. A 2005 North Dakota State University Central Grasslands Research Extension Center report showed that Sweetpro-supplemented calves on average were 57 pounds heavier and gained 0.36 pounds per day faster than calves that didn't receive the supplement, which resulted in significantly heavier carcasses and larger ribeyes.

Thornberg said people need to understand the value the ethanol industry brings to farmers through distillers grains. "Distillers grains is a real, big component, I believe, in offsetting the specious argument about food versus fuel and that energy issue," he said. "I think when you get to it, if you're using a distillers grain properly in a range setting, I believe that it's going to be able to ultimately cut down how much grain is needed in a feedlot, because you can grow them on grass better, longer. If we can shorten up the time that they need to be in the finishing yard, that will really improve things a lot."

Based in Walhalla, N.D., SweetPro lists more than 240 dealers on its Web site, including dealers as far west as California and as far east as North Carolina. Most of the company's dealers are concentrated in the mountain west states of Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, Colorado, Utah, and Arizona, as well as the Midwest states of North Dakota, Minnesota, Nebraska, Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas. The company has a very strong presence in the Canadian provinces of Saskatchewan and Manitoba.