Iowa State surveys livestock producers on distillers grains use

By Holly Jessen | May 16, 2013

Iowa State University is about halfway through a three-month long online survey of livestock producers’ use of distillers grains. The nationwide survey is focused on the beef, dairy, swine and poultry sectors.

Kurt Rosentrater, an assistant professor in the department of agricultural and biosystems engineering Iowa State University, said the survey may have to be extended if there aren’t enough respondents before the June 19 cutoff date. If that’s the case, surveys will likely be sent out in the mail, a process that will take more time.

Ethanol producers can help bring in more respondents and better survey results by spreading the word to their distillers grains customers. The online version takes about 5 or 10 minutes to complete and can be accessed here. “The more we can get the message out, the better,” Rosentrater said. “If we just get a couple a dozen responses, that’s not going to tell us a lot. We need a large response to get a good understanding of how this is working in the marketplace.”

Rosentrater spoke May 16 during the second and last day of the Distillers Grains Technology Council Symposium in Bloomington, Minn. His talk, titled “Understanding the use of distillers grains coproducts as animal feeds in the U.S.,” will also contain information about the survey.

It’s time for an updated assessment of the distillers grains market, he says. The National Agricultural Statistics Service conducted a survey of livestock producer intentions in 2006. The main goal of this survey is to gain an understanding of how ethanol coproducts are currently being used in the marketplace. For example, the data will show what distillers grains is replacing in the ration and at what rates. Are dry distillers grains used more or wet distillers grains? What about the changing dynamics in the marketplace as ethanol producers add corn oil extraction? Are livestock producers using the lower-oil distillers grains at the same level they were before?

Another goal of the survey is to help improve coproduct quality. If livestock producers are seeing problems with distillers grains what can be done to help improve the quality?

When the survey is completed the results will be analyzed and publicized, giving the livestock and ethanol industries a snapshot of what’s working will, what needs improvement and some of the trends in the marketplace, he said. The project is being funded by several groups, including the Renewable Fuels Association, the Distillers Grains Technology Council, the National Corn Growers Association and the Corn Utilization Councils from Iowa and Nebraska.