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Angus Productions Inc.

September 20, 2010

hay in the fieldBoosting Poor-Quality Hay

Distillers' byproduct grain boosts hay with poor nutrient quality.

Byproduct feeds from ethanol plants offer beef herd owners a way to supplement poor-quality hay being baled for winter feed this year.

"Distillers' grains can pick up the slack when the hay quality falls short," said Chris Zumbrunnen, University of Missouri (MU) Extension regional livestock specialist, Milan, Mo., who spoke at field days at the MU Forage Systems Research Center Aug. 3 and the Greenley Research Center Aug. 10.

"There is a tremendous amount of high-quality product available," Zumbrunnen said. There will also be plenty of poor-quality hay that was harvested late and rained on during haymaking.

Dried distillers' grain (DDG) offers around 30% protein, lots of fat and lots of energy, Zumbrunnen said. There are several products available that require different handling methods.

The dried byproduct, which has only 10% moisture, handles and stores easily. However, precautions must be taken in storage. "It can draw moisture and become caked," Zumbrunnen said. "If you put it in a bin, you might have a hard time getting it out."

The wet product, with 65% moisture, is less expensive; however, Zumbrunnen added a caution. "It's tough to store and do anything with. You can't stack it, as it will spread out unless contained."

A new modified wet distillers' grain offered by some ethanol plants allows more flexibility and ease in feeding. The modified product is dried down to 50% moisture. It retains its shape and won't blow away like dry product.

"The modified wet product can be fed on the ground or on top of unrolled baled hay. It stays in place," Zumbrunnen said "Those old cows love it."

The modified product is easier to store and keep than other products. But, take precautions to transport it. "You'll want to haul it in a dump trailer, not a hopper-bottom wagon. It won't flow out."

Store the modified product on a flat surface and then cover it with an 8-mil plastic sheet. After the sheeting is laid over the pile, a front loader is used to dump limestone on the side of the pile. When the lime flows down the side of the plastic-covered mound, it seals the bottom. Under an airtight seal, the product can be kept all winter.

"We kept some at the FSRC until April this year," Zumbrunnen said. "There will be some colored mold around the bottom edge, but tests at the vet school indicate that mold is not toxic."

Researchers at the University of Nebraska developed a way to store and feed the wet byproduct. They mixed it with poor-quality hay to give it body. The best storage is in a bunker-type silo where it can be packed down.

"You can use poor-quality CRP-type hay," Zumbrunnen said. "You're just using the hay as filler to give it body."

A mix of 40% hay and 60% wet distillers' product makes a feed useful for beef-cow herds. "At that ratio, you'll hardly be able to see the wet byproduct," he said. "You can drive a tractor on it in a bunker to pack it down to expel air from the stored product."

comment on this storyThe best time for herd owners to buy distillers' product is in late summer, before demand picks up from the feedyards. "You can save $30 a ton by buying in the off season," Zumbrunnen said. "Now is the time to buy if you can store it."

Prices and sources are listed on the dairy feed page of the MU AgEBB on the Internet. The list is updated weekly.

The MU Extension beef and dairy nutritionists listed on the AgEBB byproduct page can provide additional information on ration formulation.

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