As a relatively new ingredient in the industry, a lot of questions have been asked around the use of distillers grains in beef cattle diets. The most common of which is related to sulfur content in rations and the potential risk of toxicity and health concerns. This was a concern in the early years of DDG production but is not really an issue today thanks to the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), Turner said.
“At one time, ethanol plants were using sulfuric acid and antibiotics were used to clean and disinfect,” he said. “Residue from those cleaning agents was causing much higher levels of sulfur in the DDGS than is naturally occurring.”
The FSMA was enacted in 2011 and prohibited sulfuric acid use as a cleaning agent in plants producing human or animal foods. On average, DDG naturally contains about 0.6% sulfur, which when added to a forage-based diet should fall well within the tolerance level for beef cattle.
“The main thing when adding any feed supplement is to know what your water and forage are,” Turner said. “If you’re concerned, just be sure to have both tested and work with a nutritionist on your feed program.”