USGC expands distillers grains markets to Australia, Chile

By Kris Bevill | May 04, 2009
In November, the U.S. Grains Council facilitated the first-ever shipment of distillers dried grains with solubles (DDGS) to Australia. Hawkeye Gold LLC in Ames, Iowa supplied 45.7 metric tons of DDGS for the project, The DeLong Company Inc. donated trans-loading services and the USGC paid freight costs for the DDGS to be delivered to Australian feed supplier CopRice Feeds. Once there, CopRice used the DDGS to conduct feeding and milling trials on four dairy cattle farms in the South West Victoria and New South Wales regions of the country.

Data gathered throughout the feeding trials suggested that DDGS can be included in dairy rations in those regions of Australia with no ill-effects. Farmers who participated in the trials fed cattle including DDGS at rates of between 5 and 20 percent. Milk production was overall unchanged and other parameters such as butter fat and protein did not change significantly.

Milling trials offered similar results. It was noted that the U.S. DDGS when used at 20 percent absorbed more steam than locally-sourced distillers grains, but any issues caused by this during the pellitizing process were brought under control by reducing the steam feed rates.

Upon the conclusion of the milling and feeding trials, CopRice determined that U.S. DDGS is a tangible alternative for the company, as long as it is price competitive.

USGC Southeast Asia Director Adel Yusupov said the successful feeding trials gives momentum to the long-term utilization of U.S. DDGS in Australia. "If DDGS prove to be price competitive, I predict Australian end-users will incorporate the coproduct into feed formulations," he said, adding that shipping costs will be a significant factor in the price of the product.

Price will also be the determining factor in the expansion of DDGS use in Chile, according to Reid Jensen, USGC Rest of the World advisory team member. Jensen recently traveled throughout Chile with several USGC representatives to conduct face-to-face meetings with local dairy farmers to present the results of positive Chilean DDGS dairy feeding trials.

Jensen said the feeding trials proved that DDGS can coincide with the extensive grazing system currently employed by local farmers. Price will determine how much DDGS local dairy producers are willing to use, but Jensen predicted that lower corn prices will result in greater price competitiveness for DDGS.

"Chile's dairy industry consists of approximately 470,000 head," said USGC international operations senior director Chris Corry. "If these farms were to use an 8 percent DDGS inclusion rate and limit feeding during the lactation period, approximately 295 days per year, the potential demand for DDGS equates to 233,000 metric tons per year." According to the USGC, Chile currently imports up to 100,000 tons of DDGS annually, but most of the product is used to feed poultry and swine.