Storage and Utilization of Ethanol Co-Products By Small Cattle Operations

Final Report for ENC07-096

Project Type: Professional Development Program
Funds awarded in 2007: $44,370.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2011
Region: North Central
State: Nebraska
Project Coordinator:
Francis Hay
University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Expand All

Project Information


Educators from ten states gained knowledge and experience with ethanol co-product storage and utilization. Firsthand experience in storage techniques has prepared educators to teach storage techniques. The conferences in 2008 and 2009 and workshops in 2010 attracted nearly 300 educators. Each was provided a resource packet including pictures, videos, written reports, and interactive spreadsheet tools for use in educational programs. Participant responses in six month and one year post follow up surveys indicate educators have taught more than 5,700 producers and 69% indicate producers they taught have adopted storage practices. Written materials and videos have extended the reach of education through the internet with more than 35,000 individual downloads of educational materials. Resource materials written and web based were expanded and improved in 2011 and will be relevant and available via the web beyond the end of this project.

Project Objectives:
  • Professional development conference for education Extension Educators from Nebraska, Iowa, Kansas, and South Dakota, as well as NRCS staff, high school agriculture educators and community college animal science educators.
    Demonstrations of mixing and storage. Educators will see storage techniques and issues of spoilage and quality. Storage types will include bunker, bag, and slab storage which are the most Commonly used by small producers.
    Interaction between educators and small livestock producers experimenting with on-farm storage. Interaction between educators and beef/cow calf experts. These producers will be included in planning and teaching the professional development conferences.
    Resources toolbox for use by educators to provide training in their local areas. Toolbox will include PowerPoint presentations, written materials, and CD’s for their future reference.
    Ag educators will become knowledgeable about storage and feeding of co-products in small cattle operations. This knowledge will be passed on to producers and students by use of demonstrations, presentations, and written materials. Producers with this knowledge will make informed decisions and adopt appropriate storage techniques.

Swift expansion of corn ethanol between 2005 and 2007 has provided Nebraska with over 6.8 million tons of ethanol co-product feeds annually (based on 1,989 million gallon ethanol capacity, Nebraska Energy Office Aug 2011). These ethanol co-product feeds have excellent feed value and high palatability to cattle. Feeding the co-product wet has the greatest feed value and is most cost effective for the ethanol facilities. The wet products are very high in moisture and can degrade quickly. This project focused on storage techniques to store wet ethanol co-products and how those co-products can be used in small cattle operations.


Click linked name(s) to expand/collapse or show everyone's info
  • Sara Ellicott
  • Galen Erickson
  • Rick Funston
  • Larry Howard
  • Sandy Johnson
  • Dan Loy
  • Brent Plugge
  • Joyce Reicks
  • Aaron Stalker
  • Troy Walz
  • Cody Wright

Education & Outreach Initiatives

Co-product storage and utilization to producers

Provide education on the issue of co-product storage and utilization to producers


This Professional Development Program project focused on reaching Extension Educators, High School Vocational Agriculture Teachers, and Community College Agriculture Teachers. Another audience we discovered was important to reaching producers was private feed consultants. With an ultimate goal of behavior change at the producer level we focused on giving educators tools to help them better provide research based information which was useful to producers.

Project Educational Methods
  • Professional Development Conferences in 2008 and 2009 Professional Development Workshops - Two Website Economic decision making model Short educational videos Written materials
Project Evaluation Methods
  • Post conference survey Follow up survey six months after conference Follow up survey one year after conference Website info downloads
Outcomes and impacts:

Surveys indicate the two train-the-trainer conferences in 2008 and 2009 led to impacts in the form of producers trained and producers adopting practices. Educators responding to surveys trained more than 5,700 producers in 2008, 2009 and 2010. After the first conference, educators responding stated they taught 4,200 producers. A follow up survey six months after the second conference indicated another 1,500 producers were taught using the knowledge and materials from this project. Evaluations were completed post-conference in year one and year two, followed by a survey six months and one year after the first conference and six months after the second conference.

Survey Highlights
  • Post Year 1: 55% plan to initiate, expand, or modify their programs to provide education on the issue of co-product storage and utilization to producers. 6 month Year 1: 62% of respondents had provided an educational program utilizing materials and knowledge from the conference. 1 Year after year 1: 40% of respondents had provided additional programs beyond six months after the conference utilizing conference materials and knowledge. Post Year 2: 66% stated they are likely to TEACH practices related to co-product storage and utilization in grazing systems. 6 month Year 2: 65% of respondents had provided an educational program utilizing materials and knowledge from the conference. Overall: 69% of educators and consultants responding stated producers who they taught have actually adopted the storage techniques.
When asked to describe the results of impact analysis from their educational programs educators stated:
  • “Results of our education program included a slight increase in the storage of WDGS combined with rough forage” “I see more cow calf producers using the co-products in their heifer development programs”
Selected comments from follow up survey about how they used the materials for education.
  • “Used Modified product without bulking agent under plastic - 2 field days 100 and 160 people. Used the prepackaged stored DGS from conference as examples” 2008 “We had 13 producers, nutritionalists, and others which represented 64,000 stockers, and about 600 cows.” 2008 “I used the info in a program geared toward to cow calf producers to help them utilize wet co-products by effective storage, approximately 50 people attended” 2009 “I will be presenting mineral nutrition with ddg’s at 25 workshops winter and spring” 2010

Project Outcomes

Project outcomes:
  • Ethanol Co-Product Storage and Utilization Conference: June 2008, Mead Nebraska, Attended by 100 educators from 10 States
    Ethanol Co-Product Storage and Utilization in Grazing Systems Conference: June 2009, Mead Nebraska, Attended by 50 educators from 6 States
    Ethanol Co-Product Storage Workshop: August 2010, Southeast Community College, Attended by 60 educators and students.
    Ethanol Co-Product Storage Workshop: October 2010, Nebraska College of Technical Agriculture, Attended by 30 educators and students
    Website Development: Conference presentations, Videos, Written Publications, etc., Also on So far more than 37,000 downloads on the bioenergy site alone
    Economic Model: Co-Product STORE: Co-Product Storage To Optimize Ration Expenses, Model is available for use on the website, Educators were taught to use the model at both conferences
    You-Tube Video: Videos developed to expand our audience, simplify presentation of content and bring people to the website. Videos were completed summer 2011 . Over 400 views in the first three weeks
    Written Materials: This project parallels development of a Wet Ethanol Co-Product Storage Manual funded by the Nebraska Corn Board. Project partners worked to expand and printed a binder to containing the updates and conference information for distribution to educators

Future Recommendations

The future of biofuels and a move to biomass based fuels has come slower than many would like. Corn ethanol remains strong producing enough to replace nearly 10% of our gasoline usage. There is no perfect fuel an corn ethanol has its issues, yet it is currently the only mass produced liquid fuel which is not petroleum based. Perennial biomass crops have both environmental and energy benefits over corn ethanol yet there are currently no commercial scale facilities utilizing biomass feedstocks for liquid fuel production. As a society we seem to be leaning on agriculture to solve our food and fuel problems. This will likely put additional pressure on our land and producers who work the land.

Comments from the Project Lead

This project was undertaken at time when there was great interest in storage which increased the interest and impact of our education. It seems like some projects come in too late to have much impact and similarly some projects are too early. When the timing is right for both the teachers and the audience the impact is great. SARE funding has helped many with their forward looking approach. I thank NCR-SARE for seeing the potential in this project.

Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.