Distillers grains are a co-product of the ethanol production process and a great, low cost alternative feed ingredient that continues to be produced in large quantities by the dry-grind fuel ethanol industry. They are rich in the protein, fat, minerals and vitamins that animals need, making them a popular feed ingredient for livestock and poultry diets.
There are several advantages of distillers grains. Drying them increases shelf life and improves the ability for them to be transported over longer distances. For example, the U.S. ethanol industry produces, on average, nearly 90,000 tons of distiller grains each week. While a portion of the distiller grains is sold domestically, a large portion is exported as Distillers Dried Grains with Solubles (DDGS).
Distillers grains can also be sold wet to a local market. While the shelf life is not as long, the nutritional value maintains and the ethanol plant saves on drying costs.
Recent record-high feed ingredient prices around the world have caused animal nutritionists to search for lower cost alternative feed ingredients to minimize the cost of food animal production. The high energy, protein and phosphorus content of DDGS make it a very attractive partial replacement for some of the more expensive traditional energy (corn), protein (soybean meal), and phosphorus (mono- or dicalcium phosphate) ingredients used in animal feeds.
When DDGS is added to animal feeds that are properly formulated, it provides excellent animal health, performance and food product quality. These attributes, and others, have made distillers grains one of the most popular feed ingredients to use in animal feeds both in Iowa and around the world.