In the past couple of years, livestock producers have been saddled with skyrocketing grain prices and an influx of dried distillers grain with solubles, a product that is unique to each ethanol plant.
Hans Stein, University of Illinois extension swine specialist, hopes to take some of the guesswork out of feeding DDGS to hogs. He's created a DDGS calculator, which allows producers to input costs for the various portions of the feed ration. Producers can then see the cost comparison for a ration with and without DDGS. To download the DDGS calculator, click HERE
. "I got so many calls from producers that said if corn is this price, how much should I be willing to pay for DDGS,"
Stein, who developed the calculator in conjunction with post-doctoral student Beob Kim, says the most difficult part was calculating how much producers can reduce corn and soybean meal rations, if DDGS accounts for 10% of the ration. "I've generally found that the most common mistake producers make is they do not take out enough soybean meal,"
Stein says. "A lot of them just think of DDGS as a replacement for corn."
Currently, Stein recommends inclusion rates of up to 20% for pork production. However, he's heard of multiple producers who are feeding up to 30% DDGS in rations. "For sows and nursery pigs, 30% seems to be o.k.,"
Stein says. Varying quality
Although the calculator will give an estimate on costs, Stein says the quality of DDGS varies quite a bit, with the biggest variation attributed to lysine content. Typically, lysine content should be in the 0.75-to-0.95-percent range. If the concentration of lysine is much lower, the product is most likely heat damaged.
If the ethanol plant does not provide product specs on the DDGS, Stein recommends the producer send a sample to an independent lab. "A lot of this depends on how much they trust the ethanol plant to provide quality DDGS,"
Stein says. "Many producers have had good luck with sourcing DDGS from one or two ethanol plants."
Stein also mentioned ongoing studies to determine if pork quality is impacted by including DDGS in feed rations. "Preliminary research indicates the taste of pork from pigs fed DDGS is no different from animals without DDGS in their diet,"
However, he says the fat tends to be softer in pork produced with DDGS. While the taste and cooking properties do not seem to be affected, Stein says the appearance is slightly different. "There is currently a large amount of research going on to prevent the development of soft fat in pigs fed DDGS,"
Stein says. "At this point, we are hopeful that we will solve this problem within the next few years."
It is not usually a problem if only 20% DDGS is included in the diet, but if greater inclusion rates are used during finishing, this may become a problem. For producers who have a problem with soft fat, Stein recommends feeding a diet with no DDGS for the final three weeks prior to slaughter. "At this point, this is our best recommendation to avoid this problem,"