Livestock and Feedstock: Distiller's Grain and Fuel Ethanol

Project Overview

Project Type: On-Farm Research
Funds awarded in 2005: $15,000.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2006
Region: Southern
State: Texas
Principal Investigator:
Peggy Korth
Water Assurance Technology Energy Resources

Annual Reports


  • Agronomic: corn
  • Animals: bovine
  • Animal Products: dairy


  • Animal Production: feed/forage, feed additives, feed formulation, feed rations
  • Education and Training: decision support system, demonstration, farmer to farmer, focus group, on-farm/ranch research, participatory research, technical assistance
  • Farm Business Management: new enterprise development, feasibility study, value added
  • Production Systems: holistic management, integrated crop and livestock systems
  • Sustainable Communities: infrastructure analysis, new business opportunities


    Livestock and Feedstock: Distiller’s Grain and Fuel Ethanol concluded an extended on-farm research project to prove an enhanced dairy cattle diet and potential fuel sustainability on a working dairy farm. The project charted significant increases in milk production and adequate fuel ethanol production to run farm equipment and vehicles. Implementing small-scale facilities in working farms offers farm industry revolution broadening the scope of value-added products and the ability to supply energy needs for modern technology through traditional distilling and new disciplinary commitment. Collaboration aligned farming interest with industry demonstrating practical application for solving energy availability while augmenting food-related dairy products.


    A farmer with a stable, diversified operation can provide for many of his own needs, thereby safeguarding his ability to maintain operations during times when market volatility unsettles his economic viability. Some safeguarding steps addressed in this project include enhancing the quality of the feedstock and producing low-cost fuels for energy use and backup.

    In some parts of the country distillers grains, a by-product of ethanol production, provide an important livestock feed supplement, but not in the South where there is a dearth of ethanol manufacturing facilities. It is possible for a dairy farmer to coordinate activities that will produce an excellent distiller's grain to augment dietary supplements for their cattle while producing energy efficient and ecologically-sound fuel ethanol.

    On Farm research evaluates through demonstration a system where value-added processing of feed for dairy animals also produces clean energy as fuel ethanol. Efficient processing of high-protein distiller's grains enhances dietary supplements to dairy cattle while adding the benefits of fuel ethanol to farm energy resources. The corn remaining after distillation has 13% increased nutritional value and can be used immediately as feed. Producing “in-house” non-competitive grain, fuel, and other byproducts stabilizes farming operations allowing the farmer to be self-sufficient during the times when market values are not favorable for his particular production efforts. Sustainability becomes not only a year-round practical use of resources, it becomes a year-after-year production-based operation suited to individual needs for each farm.

    Project objectives:

    Cattle Feed and Farm Fuel

    Research Objective: Coordination of resources to obtain sustainable control of one’s own farm.
    The project systematically evaluates the quantity and value of increased milk production in dairy cattle that ate distillers grain and byproducts from a newly assembled fuel ethanol still. Value-added products and processes provide data gathered over the term of cattle feed enrichment. From that data, the feasibility of farmers producing in-house distiller’s grain and fuel ethanol demonstrates the overall benefits for utilizing innovative practices. A list of activities includes evaluating each practice both individually and as a part of an expanded system. The number of different benefits derived from the entire plan, assist in providing economic stability as well as sustainability. Moreover, if a practice provides benefits that may not otherwise be available or questionable in availability for the future, then the current benefits can be projected to include forecasting. This applies to fuel cost and availability, and the cost involved in hauling distiller’s grain from remote areas of the country. Each benefit’s evaluation presents economic savings and economic forecasting. Small scale on-site production of distiller’s grain enhances the health of dairy cattle, milk production, and milk quality. Evaluation before and after feeding from farm source verifies benefits.

    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.