Distillers’ dried grains with solubles a viable feed for poultry

As part of the £2.6m Defra and industry-funded Link programme, “Environmental and Nutritional Benefits of Bioethanol Co-Products (Enbbio)”, recent trials, have proved that wheat distillers’ dried grains with solubles (wDDGS) can be used successfully in broiler and commercial layer diets.

The process to produce bioethanol from wheat, results in nutrients such as, protein, amino acids and minerals in the grain, being concentrated approximately threefold in wDDGS after the removal of ethanol.

During the ENBBIO project, the nutritional value and performance of wDDGS was evaluated for broilers and commercial layers in academic institutes and on commercial farms.  

“Wheat distillers’ dried grains with solubles offer a lot of opportunity as a UK feed material, so it’s important to know its nutritional value for poultry,” explains Ade Adebiyi, poultry nutritionist at ABN.

See also: Getting fly control right on poultry farms

Although co-products of ethanol production have been trialled in the past, Dr Adebiyi explains the importance of the Enbbio findings.

“There’s information about the value of DDGS derived from maize for poultry, but the majority of these are based on maize DDGS produced in North America.

“Bioethanol production using wheat as feedstock continues to gain momentum in the UK. Importantly, the Enbbio project helped to provide valuable information about the nutritional value and suitability of DDGS derived from UK wheat.

“It was predicted that wDDGS would be a good source of protein, energy and minerals in poultry diets, but it was essential to know the nutritional value before diets could be constructed,” he adds.

Trials were conducted at the University of Nottingham to determine nutrient digestibility in wDDGS as well as the effects on bird performance when wDDGS was used in their diets.  

“Specifically, these trials provided information about the energy value, protein and amino acid digestibility of wDDGS. Once this was understood it became possible to produce diets that were nutritionally comparable with soya bean meal as the protein feed material,” says Dr Adebiyi.

Trials at Hook2Sisters for broilers, and Noble Foods for commercial layers, were used to assess the value of wDDGS on a commercial scale.

Broiler trial

“For broilers, wDDGS was formulated at 10% in the starter and grower diets and at 7.5% in the finisher diets. Performance was compared with broilers that were fed diets that contained typical ingredients but no wDDGS,” explains Dr Adebiyi.

“At 42 days, there was no difference in liveweight between the birds fed wDDGS and those fed diets without wDDGS. Also, the incidence of hock markings and pododermatitis were numerically lower in birds fed diets containing wDDGS.

“However, because amino acid digestibility in the wDDGS is lower than in soya bean meal, higher levels of synthetic amino acids had to be added to the diets containing wDDGS which caused them to be more costly.

“Importantly, this study showed that wDDGS can be used in a correctly balanced broiler ration. If there’s a desire to reduce the use of soya bean meal, then wDDGS could meet this need.”

Layer trials

Two trials were conducted to determine the nutritional value of wDDGS for commercial laying hens. This included a small institute trial at the University of Nottingham to provide insight into the amount that could be used, and a commercial trial at Noble foods.

“In the Nottingham trial, four nutritionally balanced diets containing 0%, 6%, 12% and 18% of wDDGS partially replaced soya bean meal, sunflower meal and wheat, from 27 to 30 weeks of age,” says Dr Adebiyi.

“Including 6%, 12% or 18% wDDGS in commercial layer diets produced similar egg production, egg weight and feed intake compared with feeding a diet without wDDGS in the four-week trial. The study provided confidence that wDDGS is a viable feed material for commercial layers.”

The second study at Noble Foods trialled a 7.5% WDDGS diet against a diet without wDDGS to commercial free-range layer hens from 16 to 72 weeks of age.

“On average, including 7.5% wDDGS in the hen rations reduced soya bean meal levels by up to 50%. At the end of the trial, there were no significant differences in egg production, egg weight, feed intake or dirty eggs between the hens fed wDDGS and those not fed wDDGS in their diets.

“The results achieved from the University and Noble farm trials would give many poultry nutritionists confidence to use wDDGS in commercial layer rations.”

wDDGS can be sourced from Vivergo biofuel plant in Hull via Trident Feeds.