I have new access to spent brewers grain. How much can I feed one-year-olds and pregnant cows or heifers? Can it mold and still be okay for cows? I will collect the grain all summer, so is there a good plan?
Elbert County Colorado
Thanks for the good question. How much you can feed depends on what you want to do. With yearlings and pregnant heifers, you will probably want to meet their maintenance requirements for energy and nutrients as well as providing enough for growth. In contrast, with cows, you might want to just maintain their body condition.
To know the answer of how much to feed, you should test your feed, and from that you can calculate a balanced ration. Colorado State University can help you find what your feed tests at (http://www.soiltestinglab.colostate.edu/documents/Forage_online_submittal_form.pdf). Unfortunately, without testing, we can't know what is in your distillers grains; they can vary too much. In addition, it is important to know what else you are feeding your cattle. That is, is this the only concentrate you are feeding, or are you feeding corn as well? What is the quality of your other feeds? Your local Extension educator should be able to help you balance a ration for your herd.
If the grain molds, it will likely still be okay for consumption by cattle. However, know that it will lose nutrients, and the amount of grain will be decreased as the fungus consumes it. If you have a way to dry the grain and keep it dry, it would be the better way to go. Also, storing large amounts of wet grains could cause the grain to heat, and in some cases could cause a fire, so caution should be used in storing such grains. For more information on feeding distillers grains, here is a link to an article from University of Minnesota Extension: http://www.extension.umn.edu/beef/components/releases/02-28-05-DiCostanzo.htm. They do not recommend storing these grains for more than five days due to spoilage.