Lick Tanks to Deliver Condensed Corn Distillers Solubles to Summer Grazing Beef Cows

Beth Ellen Doran, Beef Field Specialist, Northwest Area


Northwest Iowa is home to four dry milling ethanol plants that produce corn condensed distillers solubles (CCDS).  While CCDS has been used in feedlot rations, there is interest in supplementing CCDS to grazing cows.  A newer, but under-researched, method to deliver CCDS involves the use of lick tanks in pastures.  This delivery method is not without variability.  Some producers report no adverse effects; other producers cite animal losses.  The cause of these losses is unclear.  High sulfur content and sulfur toxicity with unlimited intake of CCDS has been proposed.  However, possible mold and mycotoxin development in the CCDS might also be occurring.


A grant to the Iowa Beef Center was written and awarded to investigate the use of lick tanks to deliver CCDS to summer grazing beef cows.  This was a cooperative project of ISU Extension, Iowa Beef Center, ISU Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory, ISU Plant Pathology Department, Ida County Natural Resources Conservation Service, Rick Heaton Quad County Corn Processors, and Derek and Nathan Drury cooperators.  From May 16 through August 9, feed intake, nutrient analysis, mold development and mycotoxin levels were monitored.

A preliminary report of the study was presented at the Western Iowa Research and Demonstration Farm Field Day on September 7, 2007.  A total of 19 producers and agri-business staff attended.  Another, but updated, preliminary report was presented at the ISU beef in-service training on October 18, 2007.  This information reached 24 state and field specialists.

Final results of the project were submitted for publication in the Iowa State University Animal Industry Report 2008.  The report is now available on the web as well as CD.

In January, Kathy Schmidt Ida County Extension Education Director requested help on the Holstein Chamber of Commerce agricultural products show.  Two slides from the study were used in a display featuring ISU Extensions programming for Ida County ag producers.  Approximately a dozen copies of the article were distributed at the Ag Show on January 15, 2008.

In February, Terry Engelken ISU Veterinary Diagnostics and Production Animal Medicine requested a few slides for a presentation he gave at the Western Veterinary Conference in Las Vegas.  Approximately 50 veterinarians were in attendance for his program.  

On February 25 and February 27, I gave presentations on the study to the Sioux County and Ida County Extension Councils.  The number of council members present was 5 and 4, respectively.

The abstract from the Animal Industry Report 2008 will be published in the April 2008 issue of Field and Feedlot - an Extension ag newsletter with a circulation of more than 3000 in northwest Iowa.


Interest in the study has been high.  There have been 15 individual requests for information regarding the study.  These individuals include producers, beef consultants, and co-product distributors.  Hence, there will be a multiplier effect on this information.

In the programming listed above, over 110 people were reached at the meetings and ag show.  At the Western Research Farm Field Day, there was considerable discussion about the frequency of delivery of CCDS.  At the FS in-service, intake levels were discussed.  At the Western Veterinary Conference, the veterinarians represented the U.S. from the southeastern part of the country to California (another multiplier effect).  In the two Extension Council meetings, the presentation and ensuing discussion ran twice the scheduled time.

This was the first documented study, and much needed research, investigating the use of lick tanks to deliver CCDS to summer grazing cows.  The results of this study indicate that, if carefully managed, lick tanks can be used to deliver CCDS to summer grazing cows.  However, the cows in this study had access to ample quantities of pasture and corn silage.  A shortage of additional feedstuffs could alter the conclusions of this project.

POW #141 Feeding distillers grains

Page last updated: April 11, 2008
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