Agriculture and Natural Resources Extension
Iowa State University

Extension Lead(s)
(name, position, counties served, contact information)

Dan Loy, Extension Beef Specialist, Interim Director Iowa Beef Center
313 Kildee Hall, Ames, IA  50011

Your Position


POW # and Team

 ­­­­­_____100 Corn and Soybean Production and Protection
­­­­­_____ 110 Dairy
­­­­­_____ 120 Farm and Business Management
­­­­­_____ 130 Horticulture: Commercial and Consumer
­­­­­__X__ 140 Iowa Beef Center
­­­­­_____ 150 Iowa Pork Industry Center
­­­­­_____ 160 Natural Resources and Stewardship

ANR Priority (select all that apply)

­­­­­__X__Global Food Security and Hunger
­­­­­_____Regional Food Systems
­­­­­_____Natural Resources & Environmental Stewardship
­­­­­_____Food Safety
­­­­­__X__Sustainable Energy – Biofuels & Biobased Products
­­­­­_____Climate Change

Title of Success Story

ISU Extension and UNL Extension Cooperate on revised guidelines for distillers grains feeding  and sulfur for beef cattle

Continuing Story

_____ No                __X___  Yes (If continuing, what story?)  This is the first of a continuing story

Knowledge Areas: (USDA categories)


Desired Changes

  1.  Producers and consultants learn about new recommendations for sulfur and distillers grains feeding to beef cattle
  2. Cattle producers reduce corn use and increase feeding levels of distillers grains (to be evaluated)
  3. Cattle producers reduce feed costs and therefore costs of beef production (to be evaluated)

(Why is it important to address this issue with education?  What are the desired changes?)

On January 6, 2011 the Iowa Beef Center in cooperation with the University of Nebraska Extension Animal Science presented a webinar that revealed new recommendations on the amount of sulfur that can be fed to beef cattle.  Since sulfur is added during the ethanol fermentation process many corn co-products of the ethanol fermentation can be quite high in this mineral.  Because high levels of sulfur can be toxic, this is the first factor that limits how much distillers grains or other corn co-product can be fed.  Since these feeds, adjusted for moisture, are typically priced at 65-80% of corn grain in Nebraska and Iowa, feed costs would be reduced if cattle feeders could replace more corn with distillers’ grains.  The webinar released recommendations on management guidelines that would allow cattle feeders to increase the sulfur content in their rations.  This was based on recently released research at the University of Nebraska and Iowa State University.  By following these recommendations, feeders can increase the level of distillers’ grains in their rations by 10-15%. 

(Outputs: activities, numbers reached, publications, products)

To support the webinar, a factsheet was developed and distributed.  Also, follow-up questions were answered and additional discussion took place on the Iowa Beef Center blog.  The webinar was viewed by 108 participants.  There were 57 viewers that completed the registration survey.  Those 57 indicated that they fed or influenced the feeding recommendations for 1.24 Million head of cattle.  A follow-up survey will be conducted to evaluate the extent of changes made by the participants. 


RESULTS (Outcomes:  specific changes that occurred in Learning, Actions, Conditions; how outcomes were measured)

To date we have been able to document awareness of the new guidelines by the decision makers involved with the nutrition of over 1 M head of cattle.  A follow-up survey will assess changes in the amount of distillers grains fed, reductions in the amount of corn fed, changes in cost of production, and economic impact of changes made.

Public Value (now or future)
(Impact:  Who benefits beyond participants and how?  What conditions changed?)

This effort should reduce the cost of beef production in Iowa and Nebraska and therefore improve the economic activity in rural communities.  Reducing corn use and increasing the use of co-products of the biofuels industry in beef diets should have positive effects on both global food security and sustainable bioenergy. 

Major Partners or Collaborators

University of Nebraska-Lincoln Beef Extension

Where story took place
(Region, campus, multi-regional)


Fiscal Year


Multi-state or Integrated (Ext + Research)

This project is both a multi-state and integrated extension/research effort

Funding Source

ISU Extension, UNL Extension, Iowa Beef Center at ISU


Beef, corn co-products, sulfur, cattle


Page last updated: June 22, 2011
Page maintained by Julie Honeick,