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2005 Annual Report

The Use of Ethanol By-Products in First-Calf Heifer and Steer Finishing Rations

Brian S. Kreft, Paul E. Nyren, and Anne C. Nyren, CGREC




Table of Contents


Introduction

Materials and Methods

Results and Discussion

    Cow Performance

    Calf Weaning Weights

    Post Weaning - Backgrounding

    Finishing and Carcass

Conclusions




Introduction


Interest in ethanol production in North Dakota has grown due to increased cost for petroleum products. North Dakota’s ethanol production capacity is relatively small, but produces by-products which are very useful to supplement cattle diets. Minnesota and South Dakota supply much of the by-products used here in North Dakota.


We were asked to evaluate some of the products produced by Sweetpro Feeds of Walhalla, North Dakota. They produce 250 lb. protein tubs made from ethanol by-products and other specialized feeds. These products were tested to determine how they can be best utilized in North Dakota beef production.


Materials and Methods


At Central Grasslands Research Extension Center, seventy-nine first-calf heifers and their calves were stratified by cow weight, calf sex, and calf age, and then assigned to either a group that was fed Sweetpro products or a control group that was not. This study was conducted for two years with two replicates and the animals remained in their assigned group for that time. All other management was the same for all groups.


The animals were weighed and assigned to their groups on May 20, 2003. Sweetpro tubs were offered free choice throughout the year to the Sweetpro groups. Over the two-year study the calves were weaned on October 9, 2003 and October 27, 2004. Weights were taken on February 18, 2004 and February 8, 2005, when the heifer calves were removed as replacements. The steers were finished and went to harvest on July 12, 2004 and June 13, 2005. The cows remained in separate groups throughout the winter, however replicates were combined during the calving periods. Weights on cows were recorded at spring turnout and weaning. The cows were exposed to Angus bulls for about 55 days per year. The bulls were rotated to a different pasture each week. Conception rates were recorded. All groups of cows had access to trace mineral salt and mineral throughout the study. Feed intake was recorded on each group.


Results and Discussion

Cow Performance

Young cows, especially first-calf heifers, have a higher nutrient requirement than older cows and many benefit from supplementation to improve weaning weights and conception rates. Table 1 gives a summary of the two-year study. There were no statistical differences in cow weight at weaning, cow average daily gain, or pregnancy percent between the control group and the Sweetpro fed cows.


Table 1. Cow performance using ethanol by-products 2003-2004.

 

Treatments

Description

Control

Sweetpro

Weight at Weaning (lbs)

1278 a*

1277 a

Average Daily Gain (lbs/day)

0.43 a

0.37 a

Pregnancy Rate (%)

96% a

93% a

*Means in the same row followed by the same letter are not significantly different (p≤ 0.05).


Calf Weaning Weights

The calf weaning weights were analyzed by set, treatment and year. Table 2 shows that there was a statistical difference between the weaning weights and average daily gain of the control and Sweetpro calves. The Sweetpro calves averaged 57 lbs heavier and gained 0.36 lbs/day faster than the control calves. This weight difference was due to their intake of the Sweetpro product and probably from increased milk production from their mothers. No milk production data was collected however.


Table 2. Weaning weights of calves on an ethanol by-products study 2003-2004.

 

Treatments

Description

Control

Sweetpro

Weaning Weight (lbs)

536a*

593b

Average Daily Gain (lbs/day)

2.39a

2.75b

*Means in the same row followed by the same letter are not significantly different (p≤ 0.05).


Post Weaning - Backgrounding

The calves remained in their replicates after weaning and were fed a common totally mixed ration. The Sweetpro calves had access to a lick tub. Table 3 shows the backgrounding weights and gains. The Sweetpro calves started at heavier weights and concluded the backgrounding phase heavier, but had similar gains to the control calves. Feed intakes were similar for all treatments. It appears that Sweetpro had little effect on backgrounding gains.


Table 3. Post weaning-weights of calves on an ethanol by-products study 2003-2004.

 

Treatments

Backgrounding

Control

Sweetpro

Start Weight

536a*

593b

Final Background Weight

815a

881b

Average Daily Gain

2.46a

2.58a

Finishing

Finish Weight (lbs)

1264a

1341a

Average Daily Gain (lbs/day)

3.28a

3.37a

*Means in the same row followed by the same letter are not significantly different (p≤ 0.05).


Finishing and Carcass

The steers started the finishing phase on February 18, 2004 and February 8, 2005. They were fed a common self fed diet of corn, wheatmidds, and a supplement that balanced the ration and also contained Rumensin. All groups were offered free choice long stem hay. Additionally the Sweetpro steers had a product called Fresh Start added to the ration and the Sweetpro tubs were discontinued. Fresh Start is a distillers product with additional yeast and some alcohol remaining in it. During the last 45 days the Sweetpro steers received two quarts/head/day of an undistilled mixture of grains which contains about 6% alcohol. The steers were weighed on July 12, 2004 and June 12, 2005 and harvested in Dakota City, Nebraska. There was a slight increase in average daily gain for the Sweetpro fed calves (3.37 lbs vs. 3.28 lbs) however it was not significant. The Sweetpro steers averaged 1341 lbs while the control steers weighed 1264 lbs. Most of this difference in weight occurred before weaning. Table 4 shows the carcass information. The Sweetpro calves had significantly heavier carcasses and larger ribeyes than the control calves. Dressing percentage, backfat, kidney, pelvic and heart fat, yield grade, and marbling scores were similar between the two treatments. Feed intakes were similar in all groups. Rib samples were taken from each group to perform shear force and taste panel testing at Texas A&M University.


Table 4. Carcass data for steers on an ethanol by-products study 2004-2005.

Description

Treatments

Control

Sweetpro

Carcass Weight (lbs)

750a*

810b

Dressing Percent

59.3a

60.4a

Ribeye Area (in.)

12.29a

13.12b

Backfat (in.)

0.45a

0.46a

Kidney, Pelvic and Heart Fat

2.02a

2.18a

Yield Grade

3.08a

3.03a

Marble Score

514a

535a

*Means in the same row followed by the same letter are not significantly different (p≤ 0.05).


The Sweetpro group of cows consumed 205 lbs of product from May 22, 2003 until weaning on October 9, 2003 or about 1.46 lb per day for that period. In 2003 the calves consumed 83 lbs of product during their backgrounding period or about 0.63 lb per day. In 2004 the calves consumed 74 lbs of product or 0.56 lbs per day. The cows were offered the tubs throughout their wintering period (2003-2004) and consumed 167 lbs per cow until they were turned out to pasture in 2004 and consumed 136 lbs per cow throughout the summer until weaning. In this one year production period from weaning until weaning, the cows consumed a total of 303 lbs of Sweetpro products.


Conclusions


The Sweetpro tubs improved weaning weights and early post weaning growth but showed little or no advantage on cow performance or calf backgrounding performance. The products used during the finishing phase had little effect on carcass merit, however they were heavier with larger ribeyes. The shear force and taste panels may reveal more differences in the meat quality and tenderness.

 


NDSU Central Grasslands Research Extension Center
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