Pairing DDGS, canola meal has negative effects in turkey study

By Holly Jessen | April 09, 2012

A study conducted in Minnesota showed turkeys fed 20 percent distillers grains had similar body weight to turkeys fed a corn-soy diet but that problems developed depending on what alternative feed ingredients were included in the ration with DDGS. “High diet chloride level of 0.32 and 0.42 percent was only detrimental to feed conversion when both DDGS and canola meal were included in the grow-finish diets,” according to a progress report about the study.

The study was prompted by the fact that -- despite research indicating that levels of 10 percent or higher DDGS can be incorporated into poultry diets -- the feed ingredient is typically limited to a lower level. Anecdotally, nutritionists say when DDGS is fed to turkeys, producers sometimes notice wetter barn litter, which can negatively impact bird performance and welfare. Basically, the study’s goal was to fine tune how much distillers grains can be included in turkey diets and examine the impact of adding other ingredients to that diet, said Sally Noll, a professor of poultry science in the Department of Animal Science at the University of Minnesota. Researchers from the Agricultural Utilization Research Institute also participated in the study.

Although sulfur content is typically ignored when considering dietary electrolyte balance, researchers pointed out that it does need to be considered when alternative ingredients are added to the diet. As a case in point, DDGS and canola meal are both high in sulfur. "Chloride level was included in the study as the use of the two feed ingredients would result in higher dietary chloride levels from the use of supplemental lysine which contains chloride as well,” Noll said. When turkeys have an excess of chloride and sulfur in their systems it can have negative impacts to bone integrity, causing skeletal problems. “The preliminary results of the reported study indicate that attention should be paid to the dietary electrolyte balance and chloride level when using multiple alternative feed ingredients to replace some of the corn and soybean meal in grow/finish market turkey tom diets,” the progress report said.

There were a few “take home messages” from the study, Noll said. For one thing, turkeys did well with a 20 percent inclusion level of DDGS. One thing that needs more work, however, is a good metabolizeable energy value for distillers grains, which will help nutritionists avoid negative feed efficiency responses. Another point Noll made was specifically for ethanol producers in reference to the effect of various additives, which result in varying levels of sodium, chloride and sulfur levels. “They do need to recognize that excessive levels of additives could have a negative impact on the product in terms of its feeding value,” she said.