Effects of dried distillers' grains with solubles (wheat-based) in feedlot cattle diets on feces and manure composition

J Environ Qual. 2009 Jun 23;38(4):1709-18. doi: 10.2134/jeq2008.0252. Print Jul-Aug 2009.


The use of dried distillers' grains with solubles (DDGS) in feedlot cattle (Bos taurus) diets is increasing as the bio-ethanol industry expands. This study investigated how wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) DDGS-based diets impact feedlot cattle nutrient and volatile fatty acid (VFA) excretion. Feedlot heifers were fed DDGS at 0 (Control) 20, 40, 60% or 60% + Ca (1% limestone) of dietary dry matter. Feces and manure were sampled monthly over a 133-d finishing period. Total nitrogen (TN) (feces only), total phosphorus (TP), pH (manure only), and water soluble NH(4)(+) and P contents in feces and manure were higher with 40 and 60% DDGS diets than with the Control. Significant increases in isobutyric, valeric, and isovaleric VFAs (by far the most odorous in manure) were also observed in the feces with 40 and 60% DDGS diets, although there was no change in the total VFA content with diet. Wheat DDGS manure, with higher N and P contents, should be beneficial to crop production. However, it could potentially increase N and P loading on crop lands after application and contribute to greater NH(3) emission and malodor intensity while manure is in the feedlot pen. Estimated manure N loss while in feedlot pens also increased significantly with dietary DDGS levels. The small (nonsignificant) differences in total and soluble N and P in feces and manure between 20% DDGS and the Control (0% wheat DDGS) suggest that excess nutrient flow to the environment and malodors can be controlled by restricting wheat DDGS to a maximum of 20% in cattle diets.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animal Feed*
  • Animals
  • Cattle
  • Feces / chemistry*
  • Solubility
  • Triticum / chemistry*