Distillers Grains Hold Promise for Pork Producers

Alberta researcher finds pigs do well on ethanol by-product.

The growth of the U.S. ethanol industry offers an opportunity for Canadian pork producers to reduce feed costs, according to a study released at the U.S. Grains Council's 6th International Marketing Conference in Guatemala.

Distiller's dried grains with solubles have the potential to serve as an economical feed ingredient for pork producers around the world, according to research scientist Eduardo Beltranena with Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development.

"Feed costs account for 70 percent of the overall cost of production, so reduction is crucial to the producer," he said. "Our primary goal is to reduce feed costs while preventing a negative impact to pork quality and growth performance."

The collaborative study, sponsored partly by the Council, is currently in the process of determining the impact on growth performance and pork quality with the inclusion of high levels of DDGS in the diet. Though the project is not complete, he reported "no concern whatsoever" in the growth performance of the pigs when fed DDGS. He said results are showing a slightly higher yield of pork a with a lower level of intramuscular fat, which is attractive to the consumer, than a diet including soybean meal.

While pork producers are concerned with cutting feed costs, the processors maintain a strong focus on the quality of the meat. Therefore, the researchers are working to determine the amount and duration of the dietary inclusion level of DDGS prior to market weight to avoid undesirable effects on pork and fat quality. Beltranena said these withdrawal rates will be imperative to the producer and processor in order to maintain the quality of product the consumer demands.

"At this stage in the study, DDGS is proving to be an economical, quality feed for pork producers to utilize in their rations," he said. "As the project continues, further effects on pork quality can be determined, therefore creating a broadened market for the abundant and valuable co-product of ethanol production."

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