Limit feed dried distillers grains by adding salt

Producer Question from 2012

Q.  Can I limit feed dried distillers grains by adding salt and feeding through either a tub or a creep feeder? I want to use the dried distillers as a protein supplement. (Nov 27, 2012)

A.  I don't know why it couldn't be used in this situation. It would be important that the salt be uniformly mixed in the dried distillers and remain uniformly distributed throughout the feeding period. The diet would have plenty of phosphorus. Calcium would need to be added to the mixture.

Dried distillers coming directly out of an ethanol plant can be warm and may bridge in the creep feeder. We have stored dried distillers in an over-head bin for months without bridging, but it was cool when we put it in the over-head bin.

With all that said, we have not fed distillers grains free choice or limited intake using salt. The high fat content of distillers alone will not limit intake. There are concerns with the variability in Sulfur content and the consumption of too much sulfur. Another concern is that too much fat in the diet will have a negative impact on forage digestion. This is most likely to occur when the fat content of the total diet is in the 5.5% to 6.0% range.

I would not recommend offering distiller grains free-choice without a limiter. If the goal is to feed distillers grains as a protein source, then 1.5 to 2.5 lb/hd/da range is likely needed and I would not expect the fat or sulfur problem.

Salt has been used in the cattle industry for many years to limit intake. For more information on using salt to limit intake please see the UNL NebGuide Limiting Feed Intake with Salt in Beef Cattle Diets, G2046 (PDF version 665KB).

Rick Rasby
UNL Beef Extension Specialist
University of Nebraska–Lincoln