Study demonstrates value of corn distillers oil in poultry

By Kassidi Andres | January 25, 2016

The U.S. Grains Council recently conducted a research study with North Carolina State University that determined carotenoid pigments, a naturally occurring yellow or red pigment used to enhance egg yolk or poultry, may add potential value and profitability to corn distillers solubles oil (CDSO) within the ethanol industry.

Egg and poultry color is important, especially in Mexico and Asia, for those who prefer a richer, darker egg yolk or yellow chicken. This indicates a healthy source of protein. In contrast, whiter poultry is seen as sickly.

The study showed that carotenoids can provide an additional 5 cents of value per kilogram of oil. This means a 100 MMgy ethanol plant could realize an additional $500,000 in revenue annually.

According to Peter Ferket, an extension specialist and nutritionist in poultry at NCSU, this research shows CDSO may create value for purposes beyond energy production, such as feedstock for biodiesel. Research clarifies that the concentrated carotenoids extracted from CDSO may be useful to the ethanol industry as a coproduct sold for animal feed. Carotenoids are currently extracted from marigold flowers. CDSO, however, may offer a new source for these feed ingredients.

“Depending on the content of how they concentrate the carotenoid in the oil it varies quite a bit,” Ferket said. “It could be anywhere from $30 premium per ton of oil to as high of $80 per ton of oil depending on their profits and how much carotenoids they can concentrate in the oil.”

Ferket claims that if a new way is developed to concentrate the carotenoids, CDSO value may increase. However, biodiesel producers do not prefer the yellow color of the resulting biodiesel fuel.

Consistency from ethanol plant to ethanol plant is the next step for this study. Since carotenoid amounts vary in each plant, researchers need to find additional details in order to create consistency. Otherwise, Ferket fears certain plants may be discredited for lower amounts.

“The goal is to look for new markets and opportunities that may make a big difference between one plant being profitable and the other not.” said Ferket. “For an ethanol plant producing 1 million gallons of ethanol, this extra value may generate about $500,000 worth of income. So, it can have a significant impact on the profitability and sustainability of the ethanol plant.”

Ferket will present the study at the Atlanta International Poultry Expo at the end of January. During that time, the USGC will present feeding trials in Mexico to demonstrate the potential value to the Mexican poultry industry.