Ohio Beef Newsletter

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Jan 20, 2007
LaRue, Ohio
Forage Focus: Managing Your Drought Stressed Pastures this Fall - Jeff McCutcheon, OSU Extension Educator, Knox County

It has been a tough summer for graziers in many areas of Ohio. Dry weather and high temperatures have limited forage growth. Many pastures have been grazed closer than they should. With the recent rains pastures have started to recover but the high temperatures that followed the rains have kept growth slower than many have needed.

As we head into cooler temperatures and traditionally more forage growth we need keep protecting our forage resources. Even though we need the feed we also need to keep from overgrazing. Grasses stressed by months of drought and in some cases overgrazing will need care to fully recover.

The first thing is keep from overgrazing. Overgrazing can be avoided by paying attention to forage residual, grazing time and rest. Forage residual, leave at least 1200-1500 lbs. of DM per acre or 2-3" when you pull animals from a field. Grazing time, remove the animals before the forage starts to regrow. Rest, let the pasture recover to above 2400 lbs. of DM acre or 6-8" before grazing turning the animals into a field.

Second, we can help the recovery by fertilizing our pastures. Fall is an excellent time to apply fertilizer to our pastures. Fall is the time when most of our forage plants are growing roots, developing tillers and storing energy for winter. Proper soil pH and adequate soil nutrients will enhance forage competitiveness. Take a soil tests and follow the recommendations.

Nitrogen can be applied in fall. Late fall applications of nitrogen, from October through November, will increase grass tillering, root growth, and energy storage. This will help with spring green-up and improve competition against weeds. Apply after grass growth has slowed, but before the plant has gone dormant. Use a low rate of 30 to 40 lbs. of N per acre.

Ethanol Co-products: How, When and Where Can I Feed Them? - Stan Smith

Within the next month, two ethanol plants will be opening in nearby Indiana, and over the next 12-14 months, at least four ethanol plants will open in Ohio. With economically feasible sources of distillers grains for Ohio livestock feeders just around the corner, many cattlemen are asking questions about how to include ethanol co-products in feed rations. Beyond simply knowing how to utilize them, it's important to know what rations may look like in the future in order to accurately plan storage and handling capacity for these products.

Below, Steve Boyles responds to some of the questions we've been hearing, and takes a close look at distillers grains and other ethanol co-products. Next week in the BEEF Cattle letter, Boyles will review corn gluten feed including how and where it might fit into beef cattle rations.

Distillers Grains with Solubles - Steve Boyles, OSU Extension Beef Specialist

The Wet Distillers Grains with Solubles are approximately 30% dry matter (70% moisture) while the Dried Stillers Grains with Solubles are approximately 90% dry matter. The wet version may have greater energy than the dry product. This is due some of the volatile compounds escaping during the drying process. Distillers grains can be sold without solubles but it appears that the most prevalent form sold includes the solubles. Some processing plants market modified wet distillers grains plus solubles (50% dry matter).

Can I feed 10-15%……..Yes

Distillers grains (wet or dry; with or without solubles) can be fed at 10 to 15% of the diet (DM basis) as mainly a source of supplemental protein. Dry Distillers Grains with Solubles has an apparent energy value equal to corn grain when fed to finishing cattle at levels ranging from 10 to 20% of total ration dry matter. Feed cost of gain will be reduced if the cost of Dry Distillers Grains with Solubles is not greater than cost of corn grain on a dry basis. At these relatively lower levels you will not be creating much excess phosphorus or nitrogen in the manure.

Can I feed 15-25%?…… Yes

When fed at levels higher than 15% of the diet, distillers grains is still a source of protein but also its energy content has more impact. To feed a 700-lb steer consuming 18 lb of dry matter, a ration containing 20% distiller's grains would equate to 4 pounds of Dry Distillers Grains with Solubles or approximately 12 pounds of Wet Distillers Grains with Solubles. Most research data indicates the optimum level of wet distillers grains is 25% or less of the diet dry matter.

Can I feed more than this?…….. Maybe

The actual range of inclusion is around 10-40% of the diet dry matter. The nutritional content of the distillers becomes more critical at the higher levels. In some studies, feeding at 40% of the diet dry matter has decreased performance and efficiency of gain and/or decreased carcass quality when compared to lower levels. At these higher levels you would want to more closely track manure composition for levels of phosphorus and nitrogen. You will be more likely be feeding these to excess.

Can I feed it to other classes of beef cattle?…….Yes

You can easily feed 4 pounds of distillers grains to a beef cow and certainly even more if you take into account some of the considerations listed below. Feeding distiller's grains may provide enough phosphorus to allow supplemental phosphorus sources to be removed from mineral packages for cattle consuming forage-based diets. Admittedly, there has not been as much work with animals on forage-based diets as compared to feedlot diets. A creep grain mix may well be able to be comprised of 50% Dried Distillers Grains with solulbles (notice this is not 50% of the calf's total diet).

Why are there limits on the amount to be fed?….Phosphorus, Fat and Sulfur are some of the limitations.

Distillers grains are generally low in calcium, high in potassium, phosphorus and sulfur. Feeders should reduce or eliminate supplemental phosphorus, potassium and sulfur when high levels of these byproducts are fed.

To maintain performance and to avoid urinary calculi (water belly), Calcium to Phosphorus ratios should be equal to or greater than 1.2:1 but not greater than 7:1. Supplemental calcium is commonly supplemented as limestone.

Excess dietary S can be a problem for ruminants for two reasons. First, high levels of sulfur (above 0.4% of diet dry matter) from feed and water can lead to polioencephalomalacia (PEM), or "brainers." Excellent bunk management so as to reduce the potential for acidosis will assist in reducing the incidence of PEM. A second option may be feeding higher levels of thiamine to combat PEM.

Sulfur interferes with copper absorption/metabolism. Regions with suspected high sulfate in the water may want to get the water tested. Producers may need to feed elevated levels of copper if ethanol products will be fed for an extend amount of time.

In the table below, examples of distillers grains with solubles were created having a sulfur content of .60, .80, and 1.0% sulfur content and its impact on a corn-corn silage diet at different levels of inclusion. Notice there are several situations where we are close or over the suggested maximum level of sulfur in the diet. 

                                                                          Sulfur Content of Distillers Grains

Inclusion rate, % DM                            .60%                              .80%                    1.0%
              20                                          .21                                  .25                        .29
              30                                          .27                                  .33                        .37
              40                                          .33                                  .41                        .49

Cattle don't handle fat as well as we do. Generally, we try to hold the fat content of cattle diets to a maximum of about 5%. Dried Distillers Grains with Solubles can range from 8 to as high as 12% in fat content.

I've heard distillers protein is higher in bypass.

The protein in distiller's grains is approximately 50% degraded in the rumen (Degraded Intake Protein, DIP) and 50% undegraded intake protein (UIP). UIP is commonly referred to as "escape or bypass protein." Escape protein is not fermented in the rumen but is digested by the animal in the small intestine. Supplements can be formulated to best meet UIP and DIP requirements; however, DDG or DDGS can serve as the sole protein source for cattle. When feeding DDG or DDGS as a sole protein source, it is important to remember that higher levels of crude protein must be fed to effectively meet the DIP requirements. A rule of thumb is that, to provide similar levels of DIP, it takes 2.7 lb of DDGS to replace 1 lb of 44% crude protein soybean meal.

Nutritional Value and Judging Quality?…..Lab test is best but there are some visual indicators

Anytime you dry a feed there is a potential for altering nutritional availability. The sugars can undergo a chemical "browning reaction" that renders part of the carbohydrate and protein unavailable to the animal. This reaction is similar to that of wet hay that overheats.

Generally, dried distillers grains should have a bright, golden brown color and smell something like beer. If the product has been burnt, it will be darker and have a burnt molasses odor. Suppliers will often discount the price of a burnt product to account for the reduction in feed value.

The lab analysis should include an analysis for heat damage or ADIN (acid detergent insoluble nitrogen) to assess the extent of protein damage. Since the ADIN value only represents nitrogen, it must be multiplied by 6.25 to calculate the appropriate protein value. The calculated protein value represents the amount of crude protein that is unavailable. For example, if a sample contains .9% ADIN, then the unavailable protein value is 5.625% (0.9 x 6.25). Thus, if the sample contains 30% crude protein, only 24.375% crude protein is available (30 - 5.625).

The nutrient content of co-products produced by ethanol plants will vary between plants. Routine sampling and laboratory analysis is recommended in order to effectively use

these feeds. Moisture level in the wet feeds does vary and a dry matter (moisture) analysis is one of the most important routine analyses to conduct.

Thin Stillage and Corn Distillers Solubles - Steve Boyles, OSU Extension Beef Specialist

Liquid removed from the mash in ethanol production is called thin stillage. Thin stillage is about 5% dry matter (95% water) Thin stillage can be (1) reintroduced into the cooking and distillation processes to extract additional ethanol, (2) sold directly as livestock feed, or dehydrated to produce condensed distiller's solubles or "syrup." This syrup can be sold separately or added back and sold with the distillers grains.

Corn Distillers Solubles are produced by evaporating thin stillage to approximately 23-45% dry matter (55-77% water). Condensed Distillers Solubles contain approximately 20 to 30% crude protein on a dry matter basis.

In most cases, Condensed Distillers Solubles should be limited to 10% or less of the diet dry matter (approximately 8 to 10 pounds per head on a wet basis). Experiments in South Dakota suggest that the addition of Corn Distillers Solubles up to 10% of the diet dry matter improves average daily gain and efficiency of gain. Based on a 10% inclusion, a 700-lb steer consuming 18 lb of dry matter per day would get 1.8 lb dry matter from Corn Distillers Solubles, or 6 lb of Corn Distillers Solubles on an as-fed basis. A 1000-lb steer would be fed 8 lb, and a 1300-lb cow would get less than 9 lb of Corn Distillers Solubles as fed.

Why can't you just feed Corn Distillers Solubles Free-choice? Corn Distillers Solubles may contain up to 15% fat depending on the source. Beef cattle diets containing more than 6% fat may depress fiber intake and digestion. When CDS is added at over 20% of the diet dry matter to diets that contain feedstuffs already containing 3% fat can become greater than 5-6% fat.

For example: 1200 lb cow x 2.2% of body weight intake = 26.4 pounds of dry matter intake

26.4 lbs of DM intake x 20% of DM intake as solubles = 5.3 lbs of her intake
26.4 lbs of DM intake x 80% of DM intake as hay = 21.12 llbs of her intake
5.3 lbs x 15% fat for solubles = .795 lb of fat in diet from solubles
21.1 lbs x 3% fat for hay = .633 lb of fat in diet from hay
1.428 lb of fat in diet
1.428/26.4 = .54% of diet as fat……….Cattle don't handle fat at levels much above this.

Caution must also be exercised because of its high phosphorus content. Evaluate the diet to ensure that the Calcium to Phosphorus ratio of the ration does not reach or exceed 1:1. We typically talk about a 2:1 ratio and you want to make sure you at least a little more calcium than phosphorus.

Condensed Distillers Solubles as a feed for finishing cattle

When Corn Distillers Solubles is fed to finishing cattle at 10% or less of ration dry matter, its apparent energy value (approximately 90% TDN) is equal to or somewhat greater than corn grain. Feeding at levels greater than 10% of ration dry matter might reduce feed intake.

Thin Stillage Feeding

Since Thin stillage contains only 5-10% dry matter it can be used to replace water in cattle feeding operations. Research suggests that replacing water with thin stillage reduces dry matter intake without negatively affecting performance. Cattle need to adapt over time to drinking the thin stillage. Not all cattle will consume the thin stillage, so these animals must be moved to pens with traditional water sources.

Fountains and water lines should be cleaned frequently to prevent microbial growth. Diets must be adjusted to account for the additional nutrients when thin stillage is replacing water. Since the nutrient content can be highly variable, each new shipment of thin stillage should be sampled and analyzed.

Corn Distillers Solubles Feeding

Due to their liquid nature, condensed distillers solubles can be used to control dust and condition dry rations (similar to liquid molasses products) at 5 to 10% of the diet dry matter. This level will help control dust and improve palatability of dry rations and increase energy and protein content of the diet.

Producers may also consider pouring it on top of hay in the feeder High variability in intake can be expected if CDS is not mixed with the forage or other dietary ingredients and delivered to the cattle in a mixed ration.

Storage of Thin Stillage and Corn Distillers Solubles

Since Corn Distillers Solubles and thin stillage contain a high percentage of water, they will gel and freeze in cold temperatures. Storage equipment to prevent these products from freezing may be necessary. Storage tanks could either be buried, housed indoor and/ or heated for long-term storage in the winter.

Some of the solids in these products can also separate from the liquid. Therefore, a recirculating or agitation pump may be may advantageous for long-term storage. Ideally, Condensed Distillers Solubles are agitated prior to adding to a ration or mixer.

Because of nutritional value variation of co-product feeds, it is recommended to check with your supplier or conduct feed testing yourself.

Weekly Roberts Agricultural Commodity Market Report - Mike Roberts, Commodity Marketing Agent, Virginia Tech

LIVE CATTLE futures on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) were mixed on Monday. The AUG'07LC contract closed at $94.20/cwt, off $0.175/cwt but $2.250/cwt higher than last Monday. This contract is set to expire on Friday. The OCT'07LC contract settled at $97.750/cwt, off $0.075/cwt but $2.10/cwt higher than last week at this time. DEC'07LC futures traded higher $0.025/cwt finishing at $100.750/cwt. Support was seen from lower corn and wheat prices, expectations for renewed South Korean and Japan imports, and stronger cash prices. For the week ended August 25, USDA reported cash cattle $2.00/cwt - $2.50/cwt higher than the previous week at $92.61/cwt for steers and $92.76/cwt for heifers. Cash cattle are expected to go $1-$1.50/cwt higher this week. This time last year steers were reported at $87.54/cwt while heifers were running $87.64/cwt. Weighing on the market were profit taking and spreading after the market gapped up last Friday. On Monday, USDA raised the choice boxed beef cutout by $1.07/cwt to $144.22/cwt. According to HedgersEdge.com, the average beef packer cutout margin for Monday was at a negative $29.95/head, $21.50/head worse than last Friday and $26.45/head worse than last Monday. Cash sellers are still looking at good prices. It might be wise to hold off pricing near-term corn inputs another week or two.

FEEDER CATTLE contracts at the CME were firm on Monday with three distant deferreds down somewhat. The AUG'07FC contract closed at $117.775/cwt, up $0.200/cwt and $1.325/cwt higher than last Monday. SEPT'07FC futures finished at $118.575/cwt, up $0.525/cwt and $1.200/cwt higher than a week ago. These contracts set fresh highs. Feeders were supported all day by lower grains, strong technicals and firm cash markets. Cash feeders also showed strength in Oklahoma City where USDA reported sales there $1-$2/cwt higher in spite of large numbers to be sold. The latest CME Feeder Cattle Index for August 24 was placed at $117.50/cwt, up $1.19/cwt and the highest it's been since September 19, 2006. It is now a very good idea to aggressively sell cash feeders getting them off pastures. Hold off pricing corn supplies for another two weeks.