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

    Proposal abstract:

    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.
    We seek to evaluate 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. Also, having the product on site allows the farmer to locate feeding stations throughout his farm, thereby reducing manure build-up. 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 from proposal:

    Research Objective: Coordination of resources to obtain sustainable control of one’s own farm.
    The project will systematically take the newly assembled fuel ethanol still and expand the components to include value-added products and processes from which data will be gathered. From that data, the feasibility of each component part addition will be evaluated to determine the overall benefits for utilizing the innovative practices. A list of activities includes evaluating each practice both individually and as a part of an expanded system. Because many different benefits can be derived from the entire plan, it is important to keep those that provide 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 and electric cost and availability, or the cost involved in hauling distiller’s grain from remote areas of the country. Each benefit deserves in-depth evaluation both for a present economy and in economic forecasting.
    1. Small scale on-site production of distiller’s grain to enhance the health of dairy cattle, milk production, and milk quality. Evaluate before and after feeding from farm source.
    2. Capturing heat from dairy operations to assist in distilling process. Evaluate difference between reasonable anticipated cost for an equal unit and compare cost savings.
    3. Generating electricity as a byproduct from the distilling process. Evaluate cost savings in electricity generated and benefits of being off-grid during times when farm operations could be impacted by outages.

    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.