DDGS improve cattle finishing

By | June 10, 2010
Finishing cattle on DDGS instead of corn can produce a high marbling quality while improving the per-head profit. In the study, "Effects of Source Energy on Performance, Ultrasonic, Carcass and Economic Characteristics of Early-Weaned Heifers," completed by the University of Illinois, researchers also noted the desired beef marbling happened in a shorter period of time using the DDGS when the cattle were fed a corn diet sooner than normal. "The goal is to get the highest quality beef product in the most profitable way," said Dan Shike, animal scientist for UIUC. "If you can initiate marbling at a young age with corn, calves are smaller and they eat much less, so feeding them corn for 100 days early saves feed costs. This system will use considerably less corn and achieve the same effect."

The use of the ethanol coproduct, combined with a corn-based diet for earlier weaned cattle, makes the system more efficient, said Shike. Because the DDGS used in the study are cheaper and provide the same level of marbling consumers want, the new approach can be more effective in times of high corn prices "Additional research is needed," Shike said, "but we believe feeding a high-grain ration to cattle at a young age and finishing them on coproducts is the most profitable way to produce high-quality beef."