In recent years, distillers’ dried grains with solubles (DDGs) have replaced soybean meal as the second largest feed ingredient, USDA’s Economic Research Service (ERS) determined in its study issued last month entitled Estimating the Substitutes of Distillers’ Grains for Corn and Soybean Meal in the U.S. Feed Complex. DDGs including its co-products corn gluten feed and corn gluten meal are second only to corn’s usage as feed, the report found.

During September 2010 through August 2011 ERS calculated that 127,006,000 metric tons of corn were used for feed.  Combined grain protein feeds (corn gluten feed, corn gluten meal, and distillers’ grains) totaled 38,600,000 tons or 17.5 percent of “total feeds fed.”  By comparison, soybean meal usage was 27,896,000 tons.

The ERS study analyzed the substitution effect of distillers’ grains for corn and soybean meal on the U.S. feed complex.  The study found that the amount of corn and soybean meal that can be substituted in livestock-poultry diets by DDGs depends upon the actual amount (market share) of DDGs fed by type of livestock-poultry and the substitution rates of DDGs for corn and soybean meal by type of livestock-poultry ration.

ERS found that, on average, for the past five crop years (2006-07 through 2010-11), 1 ton of distillers’ grains substitutes for about 1.22 tons of corn and soybean meal combined.  Of  the 1.22 tons of feeds, 1.03 tons are corn and 0.19 is soybean meal.  Further, ERS determined that the amount of feed (corn and soybean meal) replaced by DDGs represents about 38 percent on a weight basis of the corn used to make ethanol.

For 2010-11, the report estimated the following share of total domestic usage of DDGs by animal category: (percentages) beef cattle 56.4, dairy cattle 27.0, swine 10.2, and poultry 6.5 percent.  In its calculation for the usage of DDGs in broiler feed rations, ERS assumed that broilers are fed for 8 weeks, but for the first week DDGs were not included in the ration.  The grow-finish ration lasted 7 weeks, with a 10-percent DDGs inclusion rate.  The daily amount of DDGs fed to broilers was a weighted average of 0.022 pounds.