Cows eating wheat distillers' grains

Current shortages of rapeseed meal mean farms opting for homegrown protein sources from wheat distillers’ products are making ration savings without compromising on yield.

Savings of up to 9p a cow a day are being achieved from dropping rapeseed meal out of the ration for wheat distillers’ dry grains and solubles (WDDGS), according to calculations by Trident Feeds.

Iain Reid of East Coast Viners Animal Nutrition says rapeseed have been trading at a premium for six months and is looking about £10-£20/t dearer than wheat distillers’ products.

However, he stresses location is very important to pricing, and haulage costs can affect feeding options.

See also: Feeding waste whey helps Scottish dairies on milk cost

Watch for oils

Independent dairy nutritionist Richard Webster says wheat distillers’ products are looking favourable against rapeseed and soya, but warns against overfeeding due to the effect of oil on rumen function. 

He says WDDGS can be included at 3-4kg freshweight in a dairy diet, dependent on other oil sources and at 15-17% as a proportion of a compound feed.

“The bioethanol process removes starch, meaning the acidosis risk is significantly reduced and leaves you with a lot of protein, energy and digestible fibre to feed,” he says.

“Wheat distillers’ is wheat with the starch removed, which concentrates the oil, protein and fibre content of the wheat.”

Mr Webster says soya remains at a premium, adding that WDDGS are higher in energy than rapeseed.

Looking at other alternatives, he says maize gluten is at a “reasonable” price, but not as good value as WDDGS.

“Maize gluten is about 20% crude protein, while wheat distillers’ can be 31% crude protein, or a little more compared with rapeseed meal at about 33% and soya at 47%,” he adds. “Distillers’ grains are higher in energy than rapeseed meal and compare favourably with soya.”

Swapping rapeseed with WDDGS

Wheat distillers’ products have good bypass protein levels and more metabolisable protein/kg (mp/kg) on a dry matter basis than rapeseed meal, says Bethany May, Trident Feeds ruminant nutritionist.

She adds this means wheat distillers’ products can supply more mp/kg at a cheaper price than rapeseed meal and sunflower meal.

Miss May stresses that, although dry matter intakes can lift with WWDGS, it is difficult to say by how much. 

“For dairy rations,metabolisable protein intake is a key driver of milk yield, so it’s important to look at the quantities provided by a particular feed as well as the overall levels of crude protein (CP),” she explains.

“Ultimately if you can get more protein from a good-value feed source, the ration will be more cost-effective.”

Wheat distillers calculations

  • WDDGS is about 9% cheaper than rapeseed meal and 20% cheaper than sunflower meal
  • Replacing rapeseed with WDDGS brings 1.8MJ/kg DM more energy
  • Can bring a cost saving of about £837/month for a 300-cow herd at 2.5kg a cow a day
  • If using 3kg, this equals an extra litre of milk = £98.33 extra revenue/t fed

Based on a 89%DM, 35%CP, 13.4ME AND 11% DUP wheat distillers’ pellet and 28p/litre milk price. WDDGS at £3.07 a cow/day and rapeseed meal at £3.16 a cow a day. Calculations by Bethany May, Trident Feeds

 

British wheat distillers diet (kg fresh weight)

Rapeseed meal diet (kg fresh weight)

G silage

32.50

32.50

Maize silage

13.70

13.20

Straw wheat

0.50

0.50

WDDGS

2.5

0.0

Sugar beet pulp

2.45

2.80

Wheat-rolled

4.0

4.0

Rapeseed ext.

0.0

2.5

Soya-hipro

2.0

1.9

Vitamins and minerals

0.19

0.19

Dry matter intake (kg/day)

22.3

22.6

Metabolisable energy ruminants (MJ/day)

262.7

262.0

NDF:DM (%)

38.2

38.6

Starch+sugar (% DM)

20.0

20.0

Crude protein (% DM)

17.0

17.0

Metabolisable protein supply (g)

2,357

2,370