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Wisconsin Dairy Expert Educates on Distillers Grains in Rations
Wisconsin Ag Connection - 03/26/2009

University of Wisconsin Dairy Science Professor Randy Shaver traveled through Chile recently conducting feeding seminars and assessing the market potential for distiller's dried grains as part of a U.S. Grains Council trade team mission. The team conducted seminars with local dairy farmers showcasing recent Chilean dairy feeding trials, which showed positive results in both reducing feed costs and increasing milk yield when dried distillers grains were incorporated into the ration.

"Chilean dairy producers were very receptive to the trial results, especially since the trial was conducted locally," said Shaver. "This gives the local farmers a chance to see DDGS use firsthand in a trial that utilizes their own climatic conditions. It provides them a reliable source of data they can be more confident in."

Trials were conducted at six Chilean dairies over the course of two feeding periods. In phase one, a winter trial, all six farms showed a reduction in feed costs by an average of $0.17 per cow per day and an increase in milk income of $0.33 per cow per day. Results showed a combined value of $0.50 per cow per day for phase one of the trials. In phase two, conducted during summer months, cows received most of their forage from high-quality pasture instead of silage. These results showed a significant increase in milk production and a decrease in feed costs held for most of the herds in the trial.

Dried distillers grains, also known as DDGS, are a high-protein animal feed co-product of ethanol production. One bushel of corn used in the dry mill ethanol process yields some 17 pounds of DDGS plus 2.8 gallons of ethanol and the U.S. expects to produce some 1.7 billion pounds of DDGS this year. DDGS are an efficient way to help U.S. growers get every bit of value out of the kernel of corn.

Chile currently imports approximately 80,000-100,000 tons of DDGS per year, mostly for the poultry and swine sectors. The Chilean trials showed the country's dairy producers that DDGS can coincide with their grazing system and were very influential in changing their perception of DDGS, according to USGC representatives. Chile's dairy industry consists of approximately 470,000 head. If they used an eight percent DDGS inclusion rate and limit feeding during the lactation period, the potential demand for DDGS would reach an estimated 233,000 metric tons annually.

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