Yearling heifers can be economically finished on grass in combination with dried distillers grain from self-feeders, according to a recent study by researchers at the University of Nebraska.
According to Dennis Bauer -- extension beef educator for Brown, Keya Paha and Rock counties in north-central Nebraska -- there were several reasons for the study but most importantly, the research team was out to find ways for producers to cope when corn was more than $7 a bushel.
"We thought about how we could shorten days in [the] feed yard," he said. "Distillers grains were discounted price-wise to high-priced corn, so we thought it might be a cheaper way to feed cattle."
The researchers wanted to see if they could put yearling heifers almost on full feed distillers in a self-feeder in order to shorten days in the feed yard, or possibly to just bypass the feed yard altogether.
A second idea was the possibility of creating another profit center on a ranch so a son or daughter could come back to the ranch and feed cattle out without having to buy a lot more land.
Lastly, another idea was if producers could finish cattle on grass, they could avoid going through the Department of Environmental Quality or the Environmental Protection Agency for feedlot permits. The cattle would be grazing on grass to finish them out, but not in a feedlot situation.
THE FEEDING TRIAL
The two-year study was conducted at the University of Nebraska's Barta Brothers Ranch located near Rose, Nebraska. A total of 96 crossbred yearling heifers were randomly assigned to two treatments:
-- A control group that grazed from mid-May to Mid-September both years and received a free choice mineral supplement;
-- Self-fed heifers that were grazed from mid-May to mid-October which had free access to a mixture of 75% distillers grain meal with 20% soy hull pellets or cracked corn mixed in.
The soy hull pellets or cracked corn were used to ensure that DG meal was flowing through the self-feeder.
"The distillers grain meal is a little bulky, and with moisture collection it has a tendency to cake up," Bauer said. "So we just basically used the other ingredients to help get the meal to feed through the self-feeder. Otherwise, we would have gone with 100% distillers grain meal."
Bauer said the team chose to use spayed heifers both years, since they would not cycle and attract bulls who might try to break in.
The heifers were purchased in the fall, then were wintered on grass hay and about 3-4 pounds of distillers grain meal. In the winter time, the gain was only about 1.3 to 1.5 pounds per day.
"We wanted them a little big green because they were going to grass, and if you put too much weight on cattle in the winter time, they don't do as well on grass," he said.
Then around the 15th of April, when cattle would normally be turned out to native range, the heifers were put out on pasture with full access all summer long to the distillers grain mixture. The control group, however, got only grass.
An interesting fact is that researchers were able to cut the pasture of the heifers on the distillers grains treatment by 25%, since they did not eat as much grass with the DG supplement.
The control heifers both years were taken off grass in September, then taken to a feed yard for finishing. The heifers on the self-feeder were taken directly to the packing plant from the grass.
The heifers on the self-feeders gained about 3.2 pounds per day. Their carcass quality was good, about 65% graded choice or better.
"There were no problems with the quality of the meat and fat with no corn," Bauer said. "They looked good. We had no health issues, no bloat issues. And for two years, we didn't lose any heifers."
The heifers in the feedlot had a little heavier carcass weight after being on feed for about 120 days in the feed yard.
With the heifers on self-feeders, however, the feed conversion was not as good. But Bauer believes that may be purely due to economics.
"We sold the heifers coming off grass in September, but we sold the control heifers coming off the feedlot at Christmas time when the market was lower," he said. "You can't really compare the economics, because we were selling them at two different times of the year."
In the end, the self-fed heifers were eating 23-35 pounds of the distillers mix per day, for a feed conversion of eight to nine pounds of feed per pound of gain. Bauer said with feedlots striving for 5 1/2 to six pounds of feed per pound of gain, the feed conversion wasn't quite as good.
One factor that may have contributed to that was the cattle were in a large pasture and had to do a lot of walking to get to the feeders and water.
"Those cattle did a lot of traveling," he said. "They would come from grazing in the pasture to the self-feeder to eat and then water up. Then they'd go back out to the pasture. So they got a lot more exercise, which would affect the rate of gain somewhat."
Bauer said this method of finishing on grass with self-fed distillers could also work with steers.
"You could actually have them on grass on a self-feeder, and probably our results would show that we could sure expect at least 3 pounds a day gain in a grazing situation," he said.
Bauer said he believes it would also be interesting to look at feeding cull cows with the same method: buy cull cows in the fall, run them on winter pasture or windrowed summer annuals and put them on a self-feeder. This would add value to cull weight and value to cull cows.
"People normally sell cull cows in the fall when prices are the lowest, and cull cows on most ranches are 15%-20% of their total income," he said. "So if we could add value to those cull cows, more weight, sell them later in year for a higher price and up the quality grade, there might be an opportunity to add value and increase the net value on ranches by feeding cull cows."
One advantage of the self-fed method was revealed when researchers took measurements in the pastures. The pastures where the heifers were on self-feeders, but were on 25% less acres, had just as much grass left as the control heifers.
"This means producers could add more cattle to an operation with the same amount of acres if they wanted to get into that kind of an enterprise.
Another advantage is the savings in fuel costs and manpower in having to haul feed out to a feeder every day. Bauer said for the self-fed method, a four ton self-feeder was used, so it was only necessary to haul feed about once a week.
Bauer said the grass/self-fed DDG method can be done and the concept is sound. However, he advised producers to take a look at the economics of all the ingredients. He said it has been proven that DDG has about 110%-115% of the energy of corn on a dry matter basis, plus it has between 28%-30% protein. So producers could actually pay 25%-35% more for DDG than corn per unit, because they are basically getting the protein for free if they are buying it from an energy standpoint.
In the end, Bauer said this method offers producers another way to market cattle, as they can sell at any time. The method also can help producers keep cattle at home, enable them to add more cattle to the same amount of acres, and let them finish cattle without all the rules and regulations involved in operating a feed yard.
Cheryl Anderson can be reached at Cheryl.email@example.com
Follow Cheryl Anderson on Twitter @CherylADTN
NEWS IN BRIEF
ITC Report Meets With Mixed Reactions
The Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement would likely have a positive effect on U.S. agriculture exports, including corn and distillers grains, according to an article in the High Plains Journal by Larry Dreiling (http://bit.ly/…).
A report from the U.S. International Trade Commission in May looked at the effect the TPP would have on the U.S. economy, projecting the TPP could raise the U.S. annual real income by $3.7 billion by 2032.
The ITC report stated that while U.S. exports and imports are estimated to grow by $27.2 billion (1%) and $48.9 billion (1.1%) higher than projections, the greatest gain relative to projections would be the agricultural and food industries, with a $10 billion (0.5%) increase by 2032.
The report was met with mixed reactions by some agriculture industry groups.
National Corn Growers Association President Chip Bowling said the report fails to stress the importance of Congress passing the TPP. In a press release on the NCGA website (http://bit.ly/…), Bowling called the TPP "a big step in the right direction for America's farmers and ranchers" at a time when the farm economy is struggling.
Bowling said, "The National Corn Growers Association has been pushing for TPP on the Hill because it is important for the entire U.S. farm economy. We urge Congress to vote in favor of TPP as soon as possible."
The ITC report predicts that although corn exports would see a slight decrease, the increased domestic demand for livestock would more than compensate for the small loss.
However, Dan McGuire, trade policy analyst for the American Corn Growers Foundation, said the trade deal will result in a loss of $31 million in corn exports per year.
The report said farmers need to feed more grain domestically to indirectly benefit from the TPP by exporting beef and dairy. However McGuire criticized the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's new domestic policy that "seriously limits new corn demand growth from ethanol," arguing that greater production of distillers grains could help counteract the effect of reduced corn exports.
The other countries in the TPP are: Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam.
Cheryl Anderson can be reached at Cheryl.firstname.lastname@example.org.
DTN WEEKLY DDG SPOT PRICES
|Bartlett and Company, Kansas City, MO (816-753-6300)|
|CHS, Minneapolis, MN (800-769-1066)|
|MGP Ingredients, Atchison, KS (800-255-0302 Ext. 5253)|
|POET Nutrition, Sioux Falls, SD (888-327-8799)|
|United BioEnergy, Wichita, KS (316-616-3521)|
|U.S. Commodities, Minneapolis, MN (888-293-1640)|
|Valero Energy Corp., San Antonio, TX (402-727-5300)|
|Western Milling, Goshen, California (559-302-1074)|
|*Prices listed per ton.|
|The weekly average prices above reflect only those companies DTN|
|collects spot prices from. States include: Missouri, Iowa, Nebraska,|
|Kansas, Illinois, Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, Michigan,|
|Wisconsin and Indiana. Prices for Pennsylvania, New York and|
|California are not included in the averages.|
*The spot prices gathered by DTN are only intended to reflect general market trends and may vary. Please contact individual plant or merchandiser for exact prices.
If you would be willing to take a weekly phone call and have your distiller grains spot prices listed in this feature, please contact Cheryl Anderson at (308) 224-1527 or (800) 369-7875, or e-mail email@example.com.
|VALUE OF DDG VS. CORN & SOYBEAN MEAL|
|Settlement Price:||Quote Date||Bushel||Short Ton|
|DDG Weekly Average Spot Price||$160.00|
|DDG Value Relative to:||6/24||6/17||6/10|
|Cost Per Unit of Protein:|
|Corn and soybean prices taken from DTN Market Quotes. DDG|
|price represents the average spot price from Midwest|
|companies collected on Thursday afternoons. Soybean meal|
|cost per unit of protein is cost per ton divided by 47.5.|
|DDG cost per unit of protein is cost per ton divided by 25.|
USDA MARKET NEWS/DISTILLER GRAINS PRICES
USDA WEEKLY DISTILLERS GRAINS SUMMARY (June 17, 2016)
|FOB PLANT PRICES PER TON|
|Eastern Corn Belt||150.00-192.00||65.00-90.00||NQ|
|DELIVERED PRICES PER TON|
|Texas Border (metric ton)||230.00-255.00|
Dried Distillers Grain: 10% Moisture
Modified Wet Distillers: 50-55% Moisture
Wet Distillers Grains: 65-70% Moisture
CALIFORNIA WHOLESALE FEEDSTUFF PRICES (Tue June 21, 2016)
Distillers Dry Grains
Rail to California Points 210.00-225.00 dn 5.00-6.00
FOB Truck to California Points 220.00-248.00 unch
PACIFIC NORTHWEST WEEKLY FEEDSTUFFS (Tue June 21, 2016)
Offers for Distillers Dried Grains delivered by rail to feed mills in the Pacific Northwest were steady to 7.00 lower from 215.00-225.00. Offers for distillers dried grains trans-loaded onto trucks and delivered to Willamette Valley dairies were also steady to 7.00 lower at 233.00-240.00.
*All prices quoted per ton unless otherwise noted.
NASS/USDA MONTHLY CO-PRODUCTS PRODUCTION
Dry and Wet Mill, Co-products and Products Produced - United States
March 2016 - April 2016
June 1, 2016
Dry mill co-product production of distillers dried grains with solubles (DDGS) was 1.70 million tons during April 2016, down 11 percent from March 2016 but up 2 percent from April 2015. Distillers wet grains (DWG) 65 percent or more moisture was 1.26 million tons in April 2016, down 4 percent from March 2016 and down 5 percent from April 2015.
Wet mill corn gluten feed production was 306 thousand tons during April 2016, down 11 percent from March 2016 and down 2 percent from April 2015. Wet corn gluten feed 40 to 60 percent moisture was 301 thousand tons in April 2016, up 4 percent from March 2016 but down 4 percent from April 2015.
|Co-products and Products||Apr 2015||Mar 2016||Apr 2016|
|Condensed distillers solubles (CDS-syrup)||140,171||137,396||130,324|
|Distillers dried grains (DDG)||411,664||384,739||374,750|
|Distillers dried grains with solubles (DDGS)||1,663,380||1,919,507||1,701,500|
|Modified distillers wet grains (DWG) <65% moisture||1,327,808||1,320,322||1,264,745|
|Modified distillers wet grains (DWG) 40-64% moisture||387,155||456,256||426,558|
|Corn germ meal||61,922||68,140||67,530|
|Corn gluten feed||313,889||342,668||306,464|
|Corn gluten meal||89,356||91,945||84,916|
|Wet corn gluten feed 40-60% moisture||314,047||290,565||301,283|
Distillers Grains Technology Council (www.distillersgrains.org)
Renewable Fuels Association (www.ethanolrfa.org)
U.S. Grains Council (www.grains.org)
National Corn Growers Association (www.ngfa.org)
American Feed Industry Association (www.afia.org)
National Grains and Feed Association (www.ngfa.org)
Association of American Feed Control Officials (www.aafco.org)
USDA Animal Feed Safety System (http://1.usa.gov/…)
USDA Food Safety Modernization Act (http://1.usa.gov/…)
Corn Processing Coproducts Manual, Nebraska Corn Board and Nebraska Corn Board and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources Agricultural Research Division Cooperative Extension Division (http://bit.ly/…)
University of Minnesota Biofuels Coproducts in Animal Feed (www.biofuelscoproducts.umn.edu)
*Distillers Grains Technology Council Inc.'s 21th Annual Distillers Grains Symposium
The Distillers Grains Technology Council will hold its 21st Annual Distillers Grains Symposium on May 17-18, 2017 at the downtown Marriott in Indianapolis, IN. For information, contact the DGTC office at (515) 294-4019 or (800) 759-3448, or check the DGTC website (http://www.distillersgrains.org).
(If you are sponsoring or know of any event, conference or workshop on distillers grains, and would like to list it in the DTN Weekly Distillers Grains Update, please contact Cheryl Anderson (see contact info below).
We welcome any comments/suggestions for this feature. Please let us know what information is valuable to you that we could include in the Distillers Grains Weekly Update. Please feel free to contact Cheryl Anderson at (402) 364-2183, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Copyright 2016 DTN/The Progressive Farmer. All rights reserved.