SweetPro packages distillers grains in in unique way

Since 1991, SweetPro has been using DDGS as the principle ingredient in several of its patented cattle feed products, including lick barrels and bagged feed products
By Tom Bryan | October 01, 2002
SweetPro Premium Feed Supplements, headquarterd in Walhalla, N.D., is a leader among U.S. feed manufacturers in finding new and innovative uses for distillers grains from ethanol production.

Since 1991, SweetPro has been using distillers grains as the principle ingredient in several of its patented cattle feed products, including lick barrels and bagged feed products. Most of the company's products contain 30 to 50 percent DDGS and condensed solubles.

Today, the company has manufacturing plants in North Dakota and Kansas, which rely heavily on nearby ethanol plants for DDGS and condensed solubles used in its feed products. In North Dakota, SweetPro buys DDGS and condensed solubles from Archer Daniels Midland (ADM) in Walhalla, Alchem, LLP in Grafton, N.D. and Chippewa Valley Ethanol Company (CVEC), in Benson, Minn. In Kansas, SweetPro buys largely from MGP Ingredients (formerly Midwest Grain Products) in Atchison, Kan., and lessor amounts from other ethanol plants in the area.

"Our business revolves around distillers grains," SweetPro President Bob Thornberg told EPM. "That's why we're in this business. That's how it all got started."

Thornberg, formerly the general manager of the Walhalla ethanol plant under the ownership of Dawn Enterprises, recognized the value of DDGS as a feed product and founded SweetPro to fill a gap in the market. The result, he said, was the development of a broad line of feed products rich in yeast and enzymes that boost beef and dairy farmer profits through improved feed efficiencies, labor savings and better animal health.

The company manufactures 10 variations of lick barrels in both returnable and non-returnable containers and two different bagged products, which are slightly different than the barreled products and have greater "flowability." One of the bagged products contains SweetPro's own proprietary "fermented feed product."

"Over the years, " he said. "we have broadened our line to address additional species."

While beef cattle producers make up the bulk of SweetPro's sales, the company's feed lines are also popular with producers of dairy cattle, calves, sheep and horses. The company is exploring feed products for the swine market currently. SweetPro has customers throughout North America, in 25 states and four Canadian provinces, Thornberg said.
According to the company's website, www.sweetpro.com, SweetPro's patented products are "higher in protein and fat than molasses lick blocks." Here are some additional website statements about the company's products:

1. SweetPro blocks use condensed distillers solubles with much higher protein and nearly 10 times the fat as molasses, plus improved aroma and palatability.

2. Improved overall digestion and feed efficiency of 30 percent or more is achieved from SweetPro's fermentation feed ingredients, rich in yeasts, enzymes and volatile organic acids that improve rumen fermentation.

3. Energy in SweetPro blocks comes from complex carbohydrates instead of the simple sugars of molasses, for less digestive disruption.

4. The safe, protein sources of SweetPro blocks include high rumen by-pass ingredients to give calves and cattle an extra boost.

5. SweetPro blocks are fortified with Vitamins A, D and E, and a balanced blend of chelated trace minerals, to supplement lower quality hay, straw and stover.

"We work with nutritionists and the products have been refined over the years based on experiences and feedback from producers," Thornberg said. "Producer feedback is extremely valuable to us."

The growth of the ethanol industry itself, Thornberg said, has also contributed to the stability and success of SweetPro.

"For us, supply availability (of DDGS) is not an issue like it used to be," he said. "Today, we have a stable and consistent supply of DDGS. The ethanol industry is very solid. Likewise, we believe we bring a lot to the table in terms of adding more value to the ethanol production by utilizing DDGS."