With the price of corn steadily rising, other means in which to feed the nations’ two and four legged food sources are being pursued. Corn, once considered the unquestioned king of all eatable crops, has grown unpopular over the years as a human food product as both unnecessary and expensive to produce.
These days, it costs more to produce and refine corn than it can even sell for as food in the first place. Switching to producing ethanol based products is seen as both more cost effective and environmentally friendly.
DDGS stands for Distillers Dried Grains with Solubles. It’s a by-product of the distillation process. As ethanol production has grown increasingly popular, DDGS have become an efficient, effective way to feed the nations livestock and poultry. It is an effective way to cut back on waste.
Worries over the quality and nutrient values leave many resistant to it, preventing it from becoming the nation’s primary source of animal feed. Sold primarily as a protein source, it accounts for about 15 to 20 percent of a cow’s diet. As prices for DDGS fall, more studies are being done to determine just how much of a cow’s diet can be replaced.
Each animal differs when it comes to diet and many of the studies have been focused on pigs, which leaves dairy farmers and livestock producers hesitant to fully embrace this new trend. As DDGS can slowly lose its nutritional value over time, there are also concerns about its actual cost effectiveness.
The economics concerning cost effectiveness related to feed prices is determined primarily by three main factors. Feed prices, the cost of changing out feeds, and the overall difference in feed performance are all heavily taken into account before any drastic changes are made. In most cases, animals have taken favorably to their new diets, with few problems. Other farmers worry though about the catastrophic outcomes should their own animals not make the switch so conveniently.
So far, the switch to DDGS has done little to affect the favor and substances of the nation’s animals as they are consumed by the public. Taste, texture and flavor all rated equally to those animals that were fed other diets. For the most part, nutrients remained equal among all the animals in relation to other feeds.
Among other worries, many Americans are concerned about the things they put in bodies. Many swear they can taste the difference between grass-grazed cattle and feed based cattle, and can explain how farmed salmon is different from open sea versions.
Many ranchers are worried that adding DDGS will cause a barely informed public to raise unnecessary concerns about the differences of how their burgers taste. Informing the masses of change can be an expensive, tricky and sometimes futile situation.
A fickle meat-consuming public can lead to drastic drops in the meat market. Teaching and informing an already confused public about what DDGS actually is, is a task many in the meat industry would rather not face. With the push to increase ethanol in the U.S., Americans might just not have a choice.