May 11, 2010

Co-products research benefits cattlemen, feeders

Two research studies were recently announced which showed a benefit of feeding corn co-products to both cows and feeder cattle.

The first study was released May 1 from the University of Nebraska – Lincoln's Institue of Agriculture and Natural Resources which found that feeding reproducing cows corn co-products was beneficial to their post calving gain, reproduction and may improve beef production sustainability.

Rick Funston, beef cattle reproductive physiologist at the West Central Research and Extension Center at North Platte, said that very little research has been conducted on feeding co-products, such as dried distillers grains with solubles (DDGS) or wet corn gluten, to reproducing cows.

UNL animal scientists conducted feeding trials on 134 first-calf heifers between calving and artificial insemination. The experiment was replicated over two years to determine the effect of additional bypass protein and dietary fat from feeding DDGS or wet corn gluten feed.

Further studies found that feeding first-calf heifers DDGS or wet corn gluten feed in amounts that do not exceed protein needs do not have any negative effects on reproduction. In fact, they are beneficial, finding that the first-calf heifers consuming the wet corn gluten feed diet had a greater average daily gain during the supplementation period compared to the cows fed the diet containing DDGS.

Overall, they found that wet corn gluten feed improved cow average daily gain before breeding and DDGS increased reproductive response of the first calf heifers and adjusted weaning body weight of female offspring.

A similar research study released by the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign's College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmenal Sciences yesterday announced that high-quality beef and big per-head profits can be achieved by starting early-weaned cattle on corn and finishing them on a diet high in co-products.

U of I animal scientist Dan Shike looked at how to gain the highest quality beef in the most profitable way. “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 on feed costs," said Shike.

For the study, heifers from the Dixon Springs Agricultural Center were weaned at an average age of 77 days and fed a high-corn ration for the next 146 days to initiate marbling. Then the cattle were divided into four groups: pasture-fed; high starch; intermediate starch; and low starch. The cattle remained on these treatments for 73 days. Then, all cattle were fed the intermediate-starch diet for the remainder of the finishing period.

These results remained constant through harvest with pasture-fed cattle receiving lower marbling scores and fewer cattle grading low-choice. The cattle fed varying levels of starch had no difference in marbling scores. However, there were differences in profit per head. The intermediate and low-starch groups were more profitable as cattle fed these diets achieved higher gains as efficiently or more efficiently as the high-starch group.

For this study, researchers suggested starting feeder calves on corn and finishing on corn co-products.

To see more information on these two studies, see here: UNL and UofI.

Other blog posts on corn co-products fed to cattle:
Corn checkoff in the news
Positive breakevens on retaining ownership offers opportunities
Committee helps focus, speed research into distillers grains

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