How Much Corn Co-Products Can Be Fed To Beef Cattle?

Dennis L. DeWitt, Livestock Field Specialist, Northwest

Problem Statement:

Iowa is the center of a large and rapidly growing corn processing industry.  These plants produce large quantities of co-products that can be successfully utilized by Iowa beef producers in relatively inexpensive rations.  Polioencephalomalacia (PEM, brainers) in cattle is thought to have a relationship to sulfur intake.  The corn milling industry does not have a standard maximum sulfur content in any of their co-products thus causing feeder confusion on how much can be included in beef rations.

Programmatic Response:

The Iowa Beef Center is developing and delivering information to the public through meetings, news releases, news letters and one-on-one consultation about rations to assist in producer management decisions on how much to feed and cost comparisons.


Six beef meetings in the east northwest Iowa area have been held with just under 300 persons in attendance.  One third of the attendees are non-beef producers wanting information.  The greatest concern from producers was the differences between plants of the same product and a real cost comparison with the variation in nutrient value, dry matter, sulfur content, transportation cost and storage problems.  From a survey of 30 persons, the 50% were feeding some form of corn co-product.  All 30 producers wanted to feed the maximum amount of corn co-product to keep high priced corn lower or out of the ration.  10 producers were unable to feed because of the size of their operation and keeping the product fresh.  From the 84 individual rations evaluated the total ration sulfur content ranged from .24 to .64 percent dry matter basis.  None of these rations had caused any brainers.  One beef cow producer was providing 22-24 pounds of corn condensed solubles (syrup) per cow per day with absolutely no problems.  From the survey, producers indicated they have tried storing corn co-products in silage bunkers, plastic silage bags, between hay bales with and without plastic covers, and mixed with ground corn stalks in a bunker.  All were less than satisfied with these storage methods. Area of needed information is how does the small operation store corn co-products?  For many of the producers there are more questions than answers today.

June 29, 2007
141 Feeding Distillers Grains


Page last updated: August 2, 2007
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