DDGS and Fiber - Unlocking the Cow's Potential

Distillers grains represents a low-priced but high-value feed for dairy cattle. This was just one of the key learning points presented by Dr. Paul Kononoff during POET Nutrition’s recent webinar entitled “DDGS & Fiber – Unlocking the Cow’s Potential”. As part of the webinar, attendees learned about several topics related to DDGS and animal performance, which are summarized below. You can also view the entire recording in full.

Key Takeaways

• Dr. Kononoff highlighted the importance of co-products in dairy nutrition by citing research which reported that by including co-products in lactating dairy diets, we can replace more of the human-edible feed ingredients the industry uses in typical diet formulations. This helps reduce feed costs as well as reduce impacts of livestock agriculture on the environment.

• A key component of all co-products is fiber. How we define fiber in co-products depends on our perspective. Dr. Kononoff suggested that we sometimes discuss fiber as it relates to biochemical terms of pectin, cellulose, hemicellulose, or lignin. Other groups define fiber based on agronomic terms. Still others talk about fiber in nutritional terms and the portion not digested by mammalian enzymes.

• Dr. Kononoff introduced the term of NDF digestibility and how we can measure this key component in different feed ingredients.

• Digestibility of fiber as well as amount of fiber differs between co-products. Nutritionists need an accurate characterization of both the amount of fiber (size of gas tank) and rate of fiber degradation (miles per gallon) in order to successfully feed fiber co-products.

• Feeding co-products such as DDGS supports similar milk production, milk components, and dry matter intake as a control diet that contains no co-products.

• A part of Dr. Kononoff’s research laboratory includes equipment to measure energy flow in dairy cattle. Dr. Kononoff provided an overview of this process as well as images of chambers used for his research.

• Lactating cows fed DDGS had similar performance as cows fed canola meal. However, DDGS reduced feed costs by 8.6% and improved income over feed costs by 5.0% compared with the diets containing canola meal.

As Professor of Dairy Nutrition and Extension Dairy Specialist at the University of Nebraska, Dr. Kononoff has had the opportunity to research several different types of co-products fed to dairy cattle. This webinar highlighted many of the insights gained by Dr. Kononoff through his research. Overall, Dr. Kononoff demonstrated that DDGS makes an excellent feed for dairy cattle that can help producers reduce feed costs and improve cattle performance.