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Effects of supplementing beef cows grazing forages with wheat-based dried distillers’ grains with solubles on animal performance, forage intake & rumen metabolism



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Three experiments were conducted to determine the effects of supplementing wheat-based dry distillers’ grains with solubles (DDGS) on cow performance, forage utilization, and production costs. In the first two experiments, 48 dry, pregnant Black Angus cows (mean BW±SD; 598.2±4.2 kg) stratified by body weight (BW) and days pregnant were allocated randomly to one of three replicated (n=2) treatments. Cows were managed on stockpiled crested wheatgrass pasture (TDN=49.0, CP=7.3 (% DM)) in experiment one (EXP 1) and barley straw-chaff residue (TDN=45.4, CP=8.6 (% DM)) in experiment two (EXP 2). EXP 1 supplement treatments were (1) 100% DDGS (70:30 wheat:corn blend; DDGS); (2) 100% commercial supplement (COMM); or (3) control– no supplement (CONT). EXP 2 supplement treatments were (1) 100% DDGS (70:30 wheat:corn blend; DDGS); (2) 50% DDGS + 50% rolled barley (50:50); or (3) 100% rolled barley grain (control; BARL). Forage utilization was measured for both trials using the herbage weight disappearance method. Cow BW, body condition score (BCS), and rib and rump fat were measured at the start and end of trial and cow BW was corrected for conceptus gain based on calving data. There was no effect (P > 0.05) of treatment on forage utilization in either experiment. In EXP 1, cow performance was not affected (P > 0.05) by supplement strategy. In EXP 2, BW change was 11.3, 6.8, and -6.5 (P < 0.01) for DDGS, 50:50, and BARL, respectively. Because forage utilization was not affected, the difference in cow BW was the result of supplement type. Costs per cow per day in EXP 1 were $0.66, $0.68, and $0.60 for DDGS, COMM, and CONT, respectively. In EXP 2, costs per cow per day were $0.79, $0.80, and $0.80 for DDGS, 50:50, and BARL treatments, respectively. In experiment three (EXP 3), four ruminally cannulated beef heifers were individually fed a basal ration of 75% ground barley straw and 25% ground grass hay (TDN=46.3, CP=7.5 (% DM)). Heifers were supplemented with either (1) DDGS (70:30 wheat:corn blend; DDGS); (2) commercial range pellet (COMM); (3) barley grain and canola meal (BAR+CM); or (4) control – no supplement (CONT). Forage intake, apparent total tract digestibility, and passage rate; rumen fermentation parameters; and the rate and extent of forage degradation were measured. Forage intake, passage rate, and apparent total tract digestibility of DM, NDF, and ADF were not affected (P > 0.41) by treatment. Apparent total tract digestibility of CP was increased (P = 0.02) by supplementation, but was not different between DDGS, COMM, and BAR+CM treatments. Ruminal pH was not affected (P = 0.20) by treatment diet, but rumen ammonia-N was increased (P < 0.01) by supplementation. The potentially degradable and undegradable forage fractions were affected (P < 0.02) by supplementation, reducing the extent of forage degradation. Also, there was a tendency (P = 0.06) for the rate of forage DM degradation to increase when supplements were fed. The results of these experiments indicate that wheat-based DDGS can be used as a supplement for beef cows consuming forages with similar or greater effects compared to a commercial pellet and barley grain. DDGS had similar effects on rumen metabolism as the commercial range pellet or barley grain and canola meal, suggesting DDGS can be substituted on a unit basis with these supplements. As such, the inclusion of wheat-based DDGS as a supplement for beef cows will depend on the initial price of the supplement.



wheat-based dried distillers’ grains with solubles, beef cows, low quality forage



Master of Science (M.Sc.)


Animal and Poultry Science


Animal and Poultry Science


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