The Energy Value of Distillers is Greater than Corn in Forage Based Diets
Distillers grains is greater in protein than corn but it is also greater in energy. When evaluating the cost of supplements for beef cows or calves, producers should be comparing the cost on a per lb of nutrient needed.
If one is looking for sources of supplemental energy then the cost per lb of TDN is the way to compare various supplements. Unfortunately, with byproducts it is sometime difficult to know what TDN value to use. In fact, if you send a distillers grain sample in to a commercial lab for analysis the energy value they will report back is often 75 to 80% TDN which is based on the fiber content. However, this does not take into account the high protein or fat content of distillers. Both fat and protein are high in energy.
Based on cattle performance, the energy value of distillers in high forage diets has been shown to be 136% of the value of dry rolled corn when fed at 0.8% of BW or less. This is for all forms (wet, modified or dry) of distillers. Thus if corn is 83% TDN in high forage diets then 114% TDN should be used for the energy content of distillers gains in forage based diets.
For more information about how to price supplements, please see the Buying Supplements article.
For more information about the energy value of distillers grain in high forage diets, please see the following report in the 2015 Nebraska Beef Report.
Ahern, N.A., B. L. Nuttleman, T.J. Klopfenstien, J. C. MacDonald and G. E. Erickson. 2015. Comparison of Wet or Dry Distillers Grains Plus Solubles to Corn as an Energy Source in Forage-Based Diets. Nebraska Beef Report. MP 101: 34-35.
UNL Beef Systems Specialist