The growing ethanol industry in the Southern Great Plains has increased the use of wet distillers grains with solubles (WDGS) in beef cattle (Bos taurus) finishing diets. Few studies have used steam-flaked corn (Zea mays L.; SFC)-based diets to evaluate the effects of WDGS in finishing cattle diets, and a reliable estimate of the net energy value of WDGS has yet to be determined. Effects of corn processing method and WDGS on energy metabolism, C and N balance, and enteric methane (CH4) production were evaluated in a short-term study using 8 Jersey steers and respiration calorimetry chambers. A 2 by 2 factorial arrangement of treatments was used in a Latin square design. The 4 treatment combinations consisted of: i) SFC-based diet with 0% WDGS (SFC-0); ii) SFC-based diet with 30% WDGS (SFC-30); iii) dryrolled corn (DRC)-based diet with 0% WDGS (DRC-0); and iv) DRC-based diet with 30% WDGS (DRC-30). Diets were balanced for degradable intake protein (DIP) and ether extract (EE) by the addition of cottonseed (Gossypium hirsutum L.) meal and yellow grease. As a proportion of GE, grain processing method did not affect (P ≥ 0.12) fecal, digestible, urinary, and ME, or heat production. Steers consuming SFC-based diets produced less (P < 0.04) CH4 than steers consuming DRC-based diets. Retained energy tended to be greater (P = 0.09) for cattle consuming SFC- than DRC-based diets. Inclusion of WDGS did not affect (P ≥ 0.17) fecal, digestible, urinary, metabolizable, and retained energy, or heat production as a proportion of GE. Furthermore, neither inclusion of WDGS or grain processing method affected (P > 0.17) daily CO2 production. Due in part to greater N intake, cattle consuming diets containing 30% WDGS excreted more (P = 0.01) total N and excreted a greater (P < 0.01) quantity of N in the urine. From these results, we conclude that cattle consuming SFC-based diets produce less CH4 and retain more energy than cattle fed DRC-based diets; however, dietary inclusion of WDGS at 30% seems to have little effect on CH4 production and energy metabolism when diets are balanced for DIP and EE. Cattle excrete a greater amount of C when fed DRC compared with SFC-based diets, and dietary inclusion of 30% WDGS increases urinary N excretion. Finally, we determined the NEg values for WDGS were 1.66 and 1.65 Mcal/kg in a SFC or DRC-based diet, respectively, when WDGS replaced 30% of our control (SFC-0 and DRC-0) diets.
- Distillers grains
- Grain processing